By Lyn Liao Butler
Publication Date: February 1, 2023
Annie’s life has fallen apart over the past four years. Her dance studio went bankrupt, her mom and dog died within months of each other, and her son witnessed a terrible accident that left him traumatized. In an effort to bring their family back together, Annie and her husband moved from New York to Kauai to be close to her family. But even in paradise, Annie can’t shake her depression. She’s drinking too much, still having panic attacks, and the change in location hasn’t brought her closer to her son. Then items she thought she’d lost start to appear and she’s constantly being reminded of things she doesn’t remember doing. Is she losing her mind?
During the worst storm in decades, Annie’s afternoon is interrupted by a woman seeking shelter from the storm. Reluctantly Annie lets her in, and soon they start talking, bonding over seeming similar lives. But as the stranger tells Annie more about herself, things don’t make sense. This woman knows too much about Annie and her family. Who is she? And was opening the door to her the worst mistake Annie’s ever made?
The premise of this book was awesome (as is the cover). A woman whose life has crumbled is on the verge of losing her family. She doesn’t remember seemingly trivial things she’s done during blackouts. An author can get a ton of mileage out of that setup. And at first, it seemed like this would be a real brain twister. Until about 25% into the novel, then everything stalled.
When Annie opens the door to Serena, she thinks (several times) that since she’s a fan of true crime shows she ought to know better, and several times her hair prickles at something Serena says, but she blows it off. Over and over again. Okay, it could still be a good setup for action to come. Until that scene repeats itself over and over again. They talk. And talk. And talk. Annie gets concerned then talks herself out of it. They chat some more. For about 50% of the book, it’s nothing but the storm growing worse, occasional texts and phone calls, and the two women talking. Honestly, I was bored. And dumbfounded at how Annie continued to justify remaining in that house chatting and drinking wine. Just…no. Personally, I never would have let the woman in in the first place, but I sure as heck wouldn’t have stuck around for long. It was fairly obvious early on that something wasn’t right with Serena and I guessed at least half of the reveal before the halfway point.
The final storm scene came close to rescuing this book, but then Annie’s thought process killed it again. I couldn’t decide if she was really slow on the uptake or just unrealistically naive.
I have seen some reviewers that really liked this book, but it wasn’t for me. Unrealistic reactions and nothing to move the plot forward. It obviously appealed to some readers so if you liked it more than me, drop a comment and let me know what I’m missing that I maybe should have picked up on.
2/5 stars ⭐⭐
Thank you to NetGalley and Thomas and Mercer for providing the ARC. I’ve left my review honestly and voluntarily.
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