The Visitors

The Visitors

The Visitors by Catherine Burns (Literary Fiction, Thriller)

For all of her life, Marion has been the object of ridicule from her peers, her older brother, John, and her highly opinionated mother. Now a spinster in her 50s, she lives with John in the big old house where they grew up. Timid and out of touch with the world, she stays in the house and does her best not to irritate John. But John keeps “visitors” in the cellar, and while Marion manages to put them out of her mind most of the time, she can’t ignore them forever, especially when John becomes disabled and she’s the one who must take care of them.

This debut novel is less of a thriller and more of a chilling character study, with its creepiness coming from the fact that basically “invisible” people like Marion and John could be your neighbors just down the block. I was immediately drawn into Marion’s world where her dead mother’s haughty voice continues to regale her with judgmental observations, and strangers who show Marion the most basic kindness populate her daydreams of having normal relationships and a meaningful life. Then there are the occasional references to the visitors in the cellar, the backward glances at pivotal incidents in her painful childhood, and her daily ups and downs as the slovenly, not-so-bright woman living in the decrepit mansion with her creepy bachelor brother. Together they add up to a story that brings Marion to life. I came to like her and feel for her and couldn’t help but wonder how she would cope with the visitors in the cellar, when that time came.

The reader sees everything through Marion’s eyes and Marion’s way of thinking, and it’s a fascinating journey. While what’s going on in the cellar may seem potentially off-putting, it’s handled well and does not become the focus of the tale. Instead, we’re with Marion as she melds her past and present in an effort to create her own future. And, of course, to take care of the visitors.

Grandma gives The Visitors five stars. 5 stars

Bella Reads and Reviews received a free ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Visitors will be released on September 26, 2017, and is available for pre-order.

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Dew Angels

Dew Angels

Dew Angels by Melanie Schwapp (General Fiction: Literary)

Dew Angels is an amazing book. I didn’t know what to expect when I chose this book from Net Galley, and I am so glad that it was there. The writing is superb, providing incredibly vivid pictures of a place I’ve never been and introducing me to a young woman whose story is all-absorbing.

Nola Chambers is a dark-skinned teenager born into a fair-skinned Jamaican family. As a result, she is verbally and physically abused by her father and shunned by those in her school and her village. A series of misunderstandings and tragic events separate her from those she loves and leave her believing that she is nothing but a source of shame, worthless and unlovable. Yet her personal strength and determination give her the courage to do remarkable things in the face of adversity and danger, keeping this reader engrossed right through to the very satisfying conclusion.

I learned volumes about Jamaican culture, botany, dialect, and lifestyles through Melanie Schwapp’s rich use of language, while being fully engrossed in Nola’s story. And I was left with an uplifting sense of hope at the end, a wonderful way to finally go to sleep after reading this book late into the night.

Grandma gives Dew Angels five stars. 5 stars

Bella Reads and Reviews received a free copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in return for an honest review.

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