Inspired by a terrifying true story from the author’s hometown, a heart-pounding novel of suspense about a small Minnesota community where nothing is as quiet—or as safe—as it seems.
Cassie McDowell’s life in 1980s Minnesota seems perfectly wholesome. She lives on a farm, loves school, and has a crush on the nicest boy in class. Yes, there are her parents’ strange parties and their parade of deviant guests, but she’s grown accustomed to them.
All that changes when someone comes hunting in Lilydale.
One by one, local boys go missing. One by one, they return changed—violent, moody, and withdrawn. What happened to them becomes the stuff of shocking rumors. The accusations of who’s responsible grow just as wild, and dangerous town secrets start to surface. Then Cassie’s own sister undergoes the dark change. If she is to survive, Cassie must find her way in an adult world where every sin is justified, and only the truth is unforgivable.
I oscillated a lot between rating this book with 2 or 3 stars. Eventually, I gave it 3 because I realized that the story is pretty worthy and the problem for me was mostly that it was not exactly my cup of tea.
The storyline was fine, the characters were credible enough, the voice of the child narrator was strong and innocent in the same time, with many moments to remind you of both the naivety and the sharpness of a child’s mind.
There’s something terrible, terrible dark that lurks in the background and starts to poison the atmosphere, something that you can only guess from the shadows initially, but soon after, it starts to intoxicate all the thoughts, actions and the whole existence of the protagonist. And I’m not talking here only about the horrible events that are marking the life of the small town where Cassie lives, but about something way closer, something so wrong and disturbing that it might become difficult to read. There are things that stain lives forever and the author did a great job approaching such a hard topic, with an unbelievable ease, without adopting a dramatic tone or trying to turn into a psychologist. Choosing to tell the story from a 12 years old protagonist definitely helped delivering the facts with bluntness and intensity.
What made me dread reading was not the course of action, not the events happening but rather the rhythm of the story. I do understand that exactly the slow development of the storyline was what made it even more sickening, the mix of the very normal and plain days with the sudden repulsive secrets, but for me personally, this stagnant style does nothing else than decrease my interest and curiosity.
But the fact that Unspeakable Things was not a fast or absolutely captivating read for me doesn’t make me consider it a bad novel. I do appreciate the courage to approach such sensitive topics, I admired the dark atmosphere created and the ways the author draw the whole painting. The speed of the narrative was the only issue I had with the book.