If you enjoy seasonal reading, I’d put this on the list for October – it has nice spooky bones and a strong creepy vibe (as you can pretty plainly tell from the cover art). Whenever you’re ready, the Crowder House will be waiting for you.
Vera Crowder’s dad built the home that she grew up in – the home that she would leave at 16, and the home where she would return to witness the death of her mother. The Crowder’s are a complicated family, and Vera’s upbringing was highly unusual. Her mother, Daphne, was always cold and withholding of her love. Her father, Francis, had no problem showing love to his only daughter – but he was also a serial killer. You know, standard complicated family stuff.
This book is a slow burn. The beginning tracks Vera’s return to her family’s home after her long estrangement that wasn’t entirely voluntary. Her awkwardness in the “present” timeline is palpable, especially when she encounters anyone from her home town (as you can imagine, they ALSO have complicated feelings towards the Crowder family, as the victims were ALSO neighbors – and Daphne doesn’t make things any easier by inviting artists and writers and people with an interest in serial killers into their community). Throughout the book we are treated to flashbacks of Vera’s life, and about halfway through the novel really picks up the pace. The flashbacks start to give more than just creepy vibes, and future Vera begins to really reckon with what is going on in her childhood home. It culminates in a wild burst of horror that feels both like a unexpected and inevitable.
The writing was overall very decent – it’s not poetic, and there aren’t quotes that stand out to me, but it’s more literary than other mystery / thriller novels tend to be. It’s not a meditation on relationships, but it does raise interesting questions about what it means to be a monster, to build a family, to jealously protect love. It may not make the top 10 list for the end of the year, but it’s definitely worth investing in for some entertainment.