Vera Crowder has A Past. A Past filled with things that are Very Bad. When she gets the call from her mother to come home, Vera very much does not want to…but she goes home anyway. Her mother, Daphne, is dying, and needs Vera to help clean up/sort through/clean out the house. The house, which is a living museum to Vera’s father, Francis – plexiglass screwed down over tabletops and carpets, everything perfectly preserved. Daphne also wants Vera to make nice with James Duvall, an artist in residence in the shed out back. We learn a few things pretty quickly: Daphne is the Worst Mom, Vera loved her father with abandon, and her father…maybe killed a bunch of people in the basement.
Interspersed with Vera’s present day story, is her childhood. While we get a chance to see Vera interacting with both of her parents (Daphne remains the absolute worst), Gailey is also leading us slowly to a revelation about Vera’s father and what he’s getting up to in his free time.
The true pleasure of this tremendously creepy book is that just when you think you know what kind of story you’re reading and you start to settle in – it takes a left turn into uncharted territory. There are twists in both timelines that add layers of complication to the story, and to our understanding of just who Vera is at her core.
This is a deliciously twisty read, though not for the faint of heart!