Author: Rachel Caine
Genres: Thriller, Mystery
Read: Nov. 2017
Oh my goodness, what a roller coaster ride! This book was so intense!
I was really impressed with the first chapter, Stillhouse Lake had such a strong start that it just instantly pulls you into the story and I couldn’t put it down once I started! I often put books on my TBR, forget what they’re about, and then start reading them without re-reading the synopsis, so I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into when I picked this up and even the first chapter was a shock to me.
The book starts with a drunk driver hitting Gina Royal’s garage, inadvertently revealing the horrors her husband has been hiding in his “workshop”. Gina had no idea the depth of deception of her serial killer husband, Melvin Royal, and is shocked to find a body hanging in their garage. The story then jumps 4 years ahead, Mel having been convicted and put on death row. Gina was tried as his helper, but was acquitted and has changed her identity (Gwen Proctor) and the names of her two children in an effort to escape the internet trolls screaming for her blood.
This was a really interesting premise because it looks at the lives of the family of a convicted serial killer. Psycho- and sociopaths, and abusers, are often very good at hiding their depravity and acting as normal members of society. They can often deceive their friends and co-workers, with their victims being the only ones to ever know their true selves. But it’s hard to believe you could be happily married to a serial killer and have no idea they were secretly torturing and killing women in your garage. This is the problem Gwen faces. Even though she was acquitted, few people believe her innocence and in the age of the internet, trolls make her life, and the lives of her children, hell.
Women are definitely the victims of an obscene amount of vitriol on the internet. It’s hard to come up with any feminist writer that I follow who hasn’t talked about the abuse and death threats they’ve received just for advocating for women’s issues. Even the average woman isn’t safe on social media from unsolicited opinions, anger, and let’s just say, unwanted photos. Most trolls won’t take their threats any further than an internet post, they mostly get off on psychological trauma, but there are the odd psychopaths out there, so I didn’t blame Gwen for taking the threats seriously and for the extreme lengths she went to protect herself and her children.
This is definitely a psychological thriller and I have to say, it really did mess with me. I was really been torn between 3 and 4 stars because I think this is a really good thriller novel, but I personally had to rate it down a little because I found parts of the novel so disturbing (I can’t handle anything that messes with children). Honestly, I kind of think it needs a trigger warning at the front. But it was a really fast paced novel that explored the theme of trust a lot. My heart broke for Gwen, she kept trusting all the wrong people and I can’t imagine how this would mess with your mind and instincts. I think I would have lost it if I was her, but she had to be strong for her children and I really admired her character for it.
I noticed this had a sequel when I was about half way through, which surprised me, but it had the perfect kind of cliffhanger at the end. One that gives you closure to the story, but has the perfect hook to pull you into the next one. I’m not quite sure if I can handle another book as intense and disturbing as this one, but I will probably still read it because I just need to know how it all turns out!!