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Just Like Home, by Sarah Gailey

Review copy provided by the publisher.

Someday I will learn my lesson.

Some subgenres of book that I don’t like are far more upsetting when they’re written by somebody highly skilled and good at their job, as Gailey is, because they are more effective at the things I don’t like. Like highly psychological horror where people do loads of terrible things and treat each other badly. Like this book. It is an extremely, extremely well-done version of what it is. Also aaaaaah and I’m glad I finished it well before bedtime so I can try to think about something else now.

For the first time in years, Vera Crowder has been summoned back to the house where she grew up. It’s not for funsies–her mother is dying. And as little as anybody likes facing that reality, Vera has not only her mother’s frankly rather disgusting physical decay to deal with–not only the detritus of her parents’ life–but also the reality of the horrible things that happened in the house. (Oh, and a fame-seeking artist living in the shed, who thinks he’s all that and doesn’t respect her personal space, literally or emotionally, in this difficult time. Charming.) Gailey skillfully unfolds each twist of what happened and exactly how much this is supernatural and how much psychological horror–it’s both, it’s very both–so that things that look one way are illuminated with a very different–uh–flashlight when the next chapter rolls around.

If you like creepy houses and the kind of books where you have a very long list of answers to “who’s the real monster here?”, this is one for you. I don’t. But I read it cover to cover without putting it down to do more than eat my supper anyway. It’s a very well-done thing that is not my sort of thing.

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