Gretchen
The new tenants have a terrible secret. So do the landlord and his daughter…Ever since Lucy was two, she’s been on the run alongside her mother. She’s never understood the reason for a lifetime of paranoia, aliases, and lies. All she understands are the rules: never lock eyes with strangers, never let down your guard, and always be ready to move on.Finally, after thirteen years and eleven states, their next hideaway seems perfect. An isolated, fortresslike place in the New Hampshire woods is the new home they share with its owner, a gentlemanly pianist, and his lonely daughter, Gretchen. She’s Lucy’s age and soon becomes Lucy’s first real friend.But Gretchen and her father have secrets of their own—and an obsession with puzzles that draws Lucy into a terrifying new game of hide-and-seek. Lucy’s dark past is about to come calling. And this time, for her and her mother in the house on the hill, it might be too late to run.

Gretchen Details

TitleGretchen
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJul 23rd, 2019
PublisherThomas & Mercer
Rating
GenreThriller, Mystery Thriller, Fiction, Horror, Suspense, Mystery

Gretchen Review

  • Felicia
    January 1, 1970
    *sighhhhhh*Gretchen.Ohhh Gretchen.A lot of us knew a Gretchen back in school.In my case her name was Francine Sharp (please don't let her be reading this and come butcher me in my sleep). Gretchens are friendless, awkward outcasts with a tendency to glob onto anybody that shows them the least little bit of attention. Oh, and lest I forget, they are always BATSHIT CRAZY. As fun as Gretchen is she's not the MC. That would be Lucy and it's been awhile since I've loved one as much as I did her. She' *sighhhhhh*Gretchen.Ohhh Gretchen.A lot of us knew a Gretchen back in school.In my case her name was Francine Sharp (please don't let her be reading this and come butcher me in my sleep). Gretchens are friendless, awkward outcasts with a tendency to glob onto anybody that shows them the least little bit of attention. Oh, and lest I forget, they are always BATSHIT CRAZY. As fun as Gretchen is she's not the MC. That would be Lucy and it's been awhile since I've loved one as much as I did her. She's smart and snarky and uber relatable. This story is rife with mystery and tension and wacko characters and everything else I love about a psychological thriller.... UNTIL IT'S NOT. At 74% it's like a different author takes over with a whole new plot. And it ruined what was, up until that point, an exceptional book. For that reason I had to knock off a star from my rating.Gretchen is a complete departure from Kirk's In the Vines, which reached a new level of madness, but equally captivating. Kirk's writing is magnetic and the true star of her books.Despite it's failings near the end, this book is creepy fun and I can't wait for the next offering from this author. Side note to Francine Sharp: please don't kill me 😬I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Chelsea Humphrey
    January 1, 1970
    How do you neatly shelve a book that defies genre boundaries and stands in a league all on its own? Well, you clearly create a new genre titled WTAF! Also? I mean that in the highest complimentary way, because it made for an absolutely unputdownable read. Gretchen is the title of the book, but the story really focuses on things from Lucy's perspective of her tumultuous life thus far. While this is being billed as a psychological thriller, and it is one by all means, I think it falls neatly into How do you neatly shelve a book that defies genre boundaries and stands in a league all on its own? Well, you clearly create a new genre titled WTAF! Also? I mean that in the highest complimentary way, because it made for an absolutely unputdownable read. Gretchen is the title of the book, but the story really focuses on things from Lucy's perspective of her tumultuous life thus far. While this is being billed as a psychological thriller, and it is one by all means, I think it falls neatly into the horror category as well, but don't let that scare you away if you aren't typically a horror reader. As stated about, the story focuses on Lucy and her mother, and the upheaval that they've experienced in her short life. Things are starting to look up when they settle down in New Hampshire, where Lucy even makes a friend around her own age. Enter Gretchen! Gretchen is like a pesky case of head lice that you just can't shake. Oh sure, it seems harmless at first, and after you treat it you think it's gone, but it keeps coming back due to some unforeseen infestation. Now, imagine those head lice are actually a demonic little child who is obsessed with puzzles and you have the disease that is Gretchen.Friends, I cannot emphasize enough what a wild ride this story provides. The tension is there instantaneously, but it continues to fester and roil in your gut until the explosive ending, and MY GOD SHANNON KIRK. I tip my hat to you woman, because you are a master at writing about the things we pretend are horrifying, but secretly, in our deepest and darkest of hearts, we greedily consume like rubberneckers, and tuck away to tell ourselves that at least we aren't as screwed up as those people. Have you met Gretchen yet? If not, I'd be happy to introduce you to each other, just know that you can't bring her back here when you're finished with her. Muahahahaha*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my review copy.
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  • j e w e l s
    January 1, 1970
    FOUR ENTERTAINING STARS“…Mag, I hope this isn’t weird, and I truly mean it as a huge compliment, but I think you’re a Jenny too. Maybe even the truest Jenny.”Are you a Gretchen or a Jenny? Sometimes a Gretchen can BE a Jenny. And vice versa. Got that?Shannon Kirk is an outstanding writer. She cleverly weaves together a mirrored double plot line that has the reader climbing a ladder of suspense. You had best hold onto tight to each rung because when you reach the top, watch out!!! You’re about to FOUR ENTERTAINING STARS“…Mag, I hope this isn’t weird, and I truly mean it as a huge compliment, but I think you’re a Jenny too. Maybe even the truest Jenny.”Are you a Gretchen or a Jenny? Sometimes a Gretchen can BE a Jenny. And vice versa. Got that?Shannon Kirk is an outstanding writer. She cleverly weaves together a mirrored double plot line that has the reader climbing a ladder of suspense. You had best hold onto tight to each rung because when you reach the top, watch out!!! You’re about to be pushed off that ladder into a climactic scene I still can’t get my head around.I had a difficult time rating Gretchen: A Thriller. For 75% of the book, I was 120% invested. LOVED IT. We have an astute and insightful main character, 15-yr old Lucy, who is on the run with her mom. Her father tried to abduct her when she was a baby and now that mom is in charge, she is not about to let that happen again. So, they run. And move towns a lot. Eventually, Lucy meets Gretchen. Gretchen is a weird kid with personality to spare. I loved everything about needy little Gretchen until I didn’t. Okay, now about that last 25% of the novel. I admit to some eye-rolling and skimming some long passages about bones. Yes, bones. (By the end of the book, you will never look at lemons, jig saw puzzles or skeletons the same ever again!) I just wasn’t crazy about the direction Kirk took with the narrative. Despite some convincing writing, it was a tough sell on this psychological suspense fan. And I knocked off a whole star for the absurdness of it all. I got over it. As that great American poet, Cardi B, says, OKURRRRRR!The ending is INSANE and scary! Pure horror and a bit supernatural. It helps me put it into perspective and look at it like a Stephen King paperback. Gretchen could actually be a sister to King’s creepy Carrie. I promise you will be entertained and isn’t that what we’re all looking for with a summer read? Thanks to the author for allowing me to read and review an advanced galley. All opinions are mine! Gretchen is set for a July 2019 publication date.
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  • Dennis
    January 1, 1970
    Shannon Kirk is the queen of W.T.F. I fell in love with Kirk's writing last summer with her release of In The Vines. In fact, In The Vines was one of my top 10 novels for 2018! So when I heard the fabulous Shannon Kirk was coming out with a new novel for this summer, I knew I needed to drop everything and read it. Kirk's upcoming horror novel Gretchen continues to follow in In The Vines's footsteps as she ventures further into the gothic suspense genre. Both In The Vines and Gretchen have si Shannon Kirk is the queen of W.T.F. I fell in love with Kirk's writing last summer with her release of In The Vines. In fact, In The Vines was one of my top 10 novels for 2018! So when I heard the fabulous Shannon Kirk was coming out with a new novel for this summer, I knew I needed to drop everything and read it. Kirk's upcoming horror novel Gretchen continues to follow in In The Vines's footsteps as she ventures further into the gothic suspense genre. Both In The Vines and Gretchen have similar Ruth Ware vibes, so if you are enjoying Ware's latest novels, then you'll definitely enjoy Kirk's writing. Although the story is titled Gretchen , it really focuses on fifteen year old Lucy and her mother. Lucy and her mother are basically nomads hiding from their past. Lucy's mom refuses to let her get too close to people—she has to wear color contacts, she has to lie about her family life, and she can't use the internet without supervision. Lucy's mom is terrified of her daughter's father finding them due to his immense power and corruption. In fact, they have lived in eleven states since as long as Lucy can remember. Lucy and her mom finally settle in rural New Hampshire, hoping that the isolation of this small town will be the destination that they can finally call their mainstay home. They find a perfect cottage owned by a single father and his daughter Gretchen. They live on the ranch as well with another property nearby, and have a full listing ready for Lucy and her mother to move into. As Lucy and her mother settle into their new digs, they start getting to know their new landlord and his daughter. Gretchen is around the same age as Lucy, and is desperate for friends. Not having anyone besides her mother in her life, Lucy accepts Gretchen's intensity as genuine interest and forges a friendship with her. As the two get to know each other, Lucy begins to question her new friend's behavior. Gretchen is a very domineering friend, and she has a peculiar obsession with puzzles. (I won't go into that obsession further in this review, but let me tell ya, OH BOY.) The longer Gretchen and Lucy maintain a friendship, the more information she finds out about her own life. As Lucy begins to uncover the past about her dark family secrets, Gretchen begins to be force to be reckoned with. Gretchen is literally the most insane book I've ever read. Shannon Kirk dives deep into the darkness with this story, and I can't get the book out of my head! The pacing is very similar to In The Vines, so if you enjoyed how that story was told, you'll definitely be ready for Gretchen . The book goes deeper in its characterizations than Kirk's last novel, and it sets the right formula for the reader to fully be immersed into these characters' lives. As you read the story, you will believe that you know how this story will play out, but listen, you really, really don't! There were multiple moments throughout the book where I was genuinely shocked at how the story was progressing, and I legit yelled, "What the &$%#!?" multiple times (in a good way). Gretchen has multiple story arcs that develop throughout the novel, and it allowed for each character to really play a role in the plot, which made for a really enjoyable horror novel. I wonder how fans will enjoy this story, and how they would categorize this book. I would say this is more of a horror novel than a thriller, but it really is in a league of it's own. Gretchen will be out July 23, and I want to thank Shannon Kirk for providing me an advanced copy in exchange for a review. I can't wait to see what you all think of it, and I can't wait for you to meet Gretchen !
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  • Kimberly Belle
    January 1, 1970
    Let me just say, I'm so glad I read this during the daytime, when the sun was shining and I was in a plane full of people bc OMG. This book is creepy in the best possible way, and waaaaaay scarier than what I'm used to reading. The poor lady sitting beside me had her arm grabbed more than once because we've all known a Gretchen, a strange loner who turns out to be a batshit loon, only mine was named Pamela. Pamela, if you're reading this, I'm talking about a different Pamela. 😬 Five terrifying s Let me just say, I'm so glad I read this during the daytime, when the sun was shining and I was in a plane full of people bc OMG. This book is creepy in the best possible way, and waaaaaay scarier than what I'm used to reading. The poor lady sitting beside me had her arm grabbed more than once because we've all known a Gretchen, a strange loner who turns out to be a batshit loon, only mine was named Pamela. Pamela, if you're reading this, I'm talking about a different Pamela. 😬 Five terrifying stars.
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  • Tucker
    January 1, 1970
    Well, I do know who is narrating this novel.. I'm super pumped!
  • Christi M
    January 1, 1970
    Gretchen is a gripping thriller that is extremely creepy and disturbing at times. It was so good that I read most of it in one sitting. If you enjoy thrillers, don’t miss out on this one.Thoughts:Although the book is named Gretchen, the main character is actually Lucy. Or at least, the book is seen and told mostly from her perspective and not Gretchen’s. The other perspective the book is told from is Lucy’s mother – shifting back and forth between the two, but most of the time the story is with Gretchen is a gripping thriller that is extremely creepy and disturbing at times. It was so good that I read most of it in one sitting. If you enjoy thrillers, don’t miss out on this one.Thoughts:Although the book is named Gretchen, the main character is actually Lucy. Or at least, the book is seen and told mostly from her perspective and not Gretchen’s. The other perspective the book is told from is Lucy’s mother – shifting back and forth between the two, but most of the time the story is with Lucy. The story itself is broken up into three Parts. Part I is the longest and is where most of the story and setup occurs. This is where we meet all the characters: Lucy and her mother; Gretchen and her father; and other minor characters along the way. Part II is the shortest and Part III is where the story slightly takes a new direction – in a way – as it reaches its climax. The main two characters are Lucy and Gretchen. Lucy is just looking for some stability, true friends that she calls “Jenny’s”, and a little more independence from her mother. Gretchen is a social outcast, with a different type of personality, and has very puzzling behavior that makes me cringe because she can be so uncomfortable and unnerving as a character. She is someone that my instincts would naturally tell me to stay away from as much as possible, but due to her situation Lucy is not really able to do that.The book is extremely engaging and it was such a good read that it became hard to put down. In fact, I read it in two days. Every chapter made me more and more curious about Gretchen’s odd behavior and if there wasn’t that then I was always trying to figure out Lucy’s situation. Why was Lucy always on the run and why did Lucy’s mother act the way she did – overprotective one minute and ignoring Lucy for days on end the next. The writing and way the author put everything together made this thriller fly by with me fully invested through-out the entire story.This thriller is one I most definitely can recommend. I haven’t read Shannon Kirk before, but now plan to pick up more of her previous books and will always be on the look out for her next one.Rating: 4.5 starsThank you Netgalley and Thomas & Mercer for the advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest opinion.
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  • Tracy Robinson
    January 1, 1970
    Review soon! Definitely between 4-5 for meOkay - I’ve had a few days to think this over, and I’m going to go with 4.5 rounded up to 5. I don’t really do that often, but for me this was so close to being perfect that I just couldn’t have it any other way. I haven’t read Kirk before, a misstep I’m definitely regretting. I already have eyes on her 15/33 novel. GRETCHEN is a very dark suspense/thriller, chock full of female characters I loved, hated, and was terrified of. There are some scenes invol Review soon! Definitely between 4-5 for meOkay - I’ve had a few days to think this over, and I’m going to go with 4.5 rounded up to 5. I don’t really do that often, but for me this was so close to being perfect that I just couldn’t have it any other way. I haven’t read Kirk before, a misstep I’m definitely regretting. I already have eyes on her 15/33 novel. GRETCHEN is a very dark suspense/thriller, chock full of female characters I loved, hated, and was terrified of. There are some scenes involving Gretchen that had me cringing HARD and I read A LOT of horror novels. What you’ll find in this book are two interwoven tales, a mother and daughter on the run, full of secrets, and a father/daughter duo just trying to enjoy their “projects”. I had several WTF moments and while the whole book moves well, the last 1/2 blazes a trail of “on the edge of your seat” writing. Wow. It might be years before I have another glass of lemonade. Or pick up a jigsaw puzzle. This book is out in July - check it out.
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  • Emily Carpenter
    January 1, 1970
    Gretchen terrified me, made me laugh, made my jaw hit the floor. How can a book do all three? I’ll tell you how, because it comes from the brain of Shannon Kirk, one of the most gifted, original horror writers working today. This book is a nightmare, a delight, and a mischief-making, nasty-nice fairy tale pixie, all wrapped into one insidious package. As I got lost in the book, like in Gretchen’s puzzle-like hallways of her uber-freaky house, I had to wonder what kind of sorceress Kirk is, to ha Gretchen terrified me, made me laugh, made my jaw hit the floor. How can a book do all three? I’ll tell you how, because it comes from the brain of Shannon Kirk, one of the most gifted, original horror writers working today. This book is a nightmare, a delight, and a mischief-making, nasty-nice fairy tale pixie, all wrapped into one insidious package. As I got lost in the book, like in Gretchen’s puzzle-like hallways of her uber-freaky house, I had to wonder what kind of sorceress Kirk is, to have wormed her way into my brain and then written exactly the kind of story that makes me jump out of my skin and burns its way into my memory. The best kind.
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  • David
    January 1, 1970
    Shannon Kirk does it again. Gretchen is psychotic perfection loaded with extra helpings of bizarreness and a couple of pounds of fried bacon thrown in. I loved it!
  • BernLuvsBooks (Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas)
    January 1, 1970
    😳 3.5 What Did I Just Read Stars ⭐⭐⭐💫 What is it about psychotic children that is so creepy yet appealing? Gretchen took disturbed to a whole new level. 15 year old Lucy and her mother have been on the run for 13 years. 11 states and endless hours cross country in their car later they end up in an isolated, fortresslike place in the New Hampshire woods. Their new landlords are a pianist, and his lonely daughter, Gretchen. It would be ideal, if each of these families weren't harboring so many s 😳 3.5 What Did I Just Read Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 What is it about psychotic children that is so creepy yet appealing? Gretchen took disturbed to a whole new level. 15 year old Lucy and her mother have been on the run for 13 years. 11 states and endless hours cross country in their car later they end up in an isolated, fortresslike place in the New Hampshire woods. Their new landlords are a pianist, and his lonely daughter, Gretchen. It would be ideal, if each of these families weren't harboring so many secrets. Shannon Kirk has a way of leaving her readers on high alert. This story is pure tension. You don't know who is crazier - each character seems worse than the last. But Gretchen - she's the worst of them all. Gretchen is creepy, has zero social boundaries and is absolutely CRAZY! There's no other word for her, the girl is demented. I was all in for this one but the end kinda lost some of its mojo for me compared to the lead up in the beginning. Still, the book was insane and had me hooked throughout. It was like a crazy, far fetched nightmare and I couldn't look away. If you like your books with suspense, horror and lots of tension - definitely pick this one up! Thank you to Shannon Kirk, Thomas & Mercer and NetGalley for an arc of this suspenseful, chills all around read!
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  • Jamie
    January 1, 1970
    2.5 Stars for Gretchen by Shannon Kirk. What should have been a slow burn gothic thriller turned into a tedious, dragging story with twists that I saw coming a mile away. Mother daughter duo are on the run - from what exactly we don't know - but they rent a cabin from Gretchen and her father. Gretchen seems to lack any sense of social convention and oversteps boundaries more than frequently. Told in alternating perspectives from mother and daughter (Lucy), we begin to unravel why they are runnin 2.5 Stars for Gretchen by Shannon Kirk. What should have been a slow burn gothic thriller turned into a tedious, dragging story with twists that I saw coming a mile away. Mother daughter duo are on the run - from what exactly we don't know - but they rent a cabin from Gretchen and her father. Gretchen seems to lack any sense of social convention and oversteps boundaries more than frequently. Told in alternating perspectives from mother and daughter (Lucy), we begin to unravel why they are running and what they are running from. Unfortunately, the reveals were a bit lackluster for me and by the time we got to the meatier part of the story, I was already feeling frustrated by the dragging pace. Thank you to Thomas & Mercer for an advanced copy. All opinions are my own.
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  • Lavender
    January 1, 1970
    Well, this was a weird story. I loved Kirk’s “Method 15/33” and I was really looking forward to this book. In “Method 15/33” we met a genius girl who used what she got at hand to free herself from her kidnappers. In “Gretchen” we meet at last 4 females who are capable of extraordinary things. At first this story seems to be the one of a girl who is always on the run with her mother. She has to keep her head low, has to wear contacts to hide her violet eyes. Her mother fears constantly that someo Well, this was a weird story. I loved Kirk’s “Method 15/33” and I was really looking forward to this book. In “Method 15/33” we met a genius girl who used what she got at hand to free herself from her kidnappers. In “Gretchen” we meet at last 4 females who are capable of extraordinary things. At first this story seems to be the one of a girl who is always on the run with her mother. She has to keep her head low, has to wear contacts to hide her violet eyes. Her mother fears constantly that someone will recognize her and that would be dangerous. But there is something strange about the whole story. When they run again after Lucy, the girl, made eye contact with someone without wearing her contacts, the story turns into something completely different. Lucy and her mother find a rental in a small town but their landlords turn out to be very very creepy. I was not as gripped by this book as I hoped I would. I missed the tension and I was very early irritated by the strange behavior of Lucy’s mother. I knew something was not right about her story. But what really makes this book difficult to review are the last 25%. I will not say too much about it. It was weird, creepy and so unrealistic. The whole thing became a little muddled. I am really a bit lost here. I just don’t know what I’ve just read. It was an odd book but I think because of that I will remember it. I would read another book from Kirk because I like unique story ideas and she proofed that she has such ideas. And I am curious with what bizarre idea she will come up next.
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  • Dita
    January 1, 1970
    Wait! What?Im reading along, reading along, or in this case listening along, loving this story, loving Lucy and her relatable, perfectly snarky self when......WHAM.Someone clearly, around the 75% mark, broke into Shannon Kirk's house, tied her up, and finished this book for her.Hopefully against her will.
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  • Hannah Mary McKinnon
    January 1, 1970
    Spine-tingling and deliciously creepy, Shannon Kirk’s Gretchen has a way of getting into your head, making you frantically turn the pages to find out what she’ll do next, and who she’ll let live. Even if you’re a master at expecting the unexpected, you might want to read with the lights on.
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  • Heidi
    January 1, 1970
    How crazy was this book????? I think I still have vertigo from the nosedive into the insanity of Gretchen’s world and the events that took place in the last 25% of Kirk’s latest creation. After reading IN THE VINES last year, I knew I would be in for a treat, but had little idea of what exactly I was letting myself in for with this one.I immediately liked Lucy, the 15-year-old MC who is narrating most of the story. Lucy and her mother have been on the run for 13 years, ever since Lucy was two. S How crazy was this book????? I think I still have vertigo from the nosedive into the insanity of Gretchen’s world and the events that took place in the last 25% of Kirk’s latest creation. After reading IN THE VINES last year, I knew I would be in for a treat, but had little idea of what exactly I was letting myself in for with this one.I immediately liked Lucy, the 15-year-old MC who is narrating most of the story. Lucy and her mother have been on the run for 13 years, ever since Lucy was two. She believes her mother when she tells her that her evil, powerful father is their enemy and that she must never, ever try to look for him. As if she would even get the chance, because her mother keeps her strictly offline, and every time there is even the slightest danger of someone getting too personal, they do the midnight runner just to end up in another small nondescript town in the middle of nowhere. Now that Lucy is 15, she longs for normality, but most of all she wants a friend. The sort of girl she calls a “Jenny”. Loyal, kind, not asking much in return for a firm quiet friendship. When Lucy first meets Gretchen, the daughter of their latest landlord, she knows that she is no Jenny. In fact, Gretchen is batshit crazy, with her penchant for puzzles and her way of creeping up on people and invading their privacy. But beggars can’t be choosers, and Lucy is sick of being a friendless girl on the run. Only that her rebellion may cost them all dearly ....As with her previous book, Shannon Kirk immediately swept me up with her writing and carried me along in its storm like a tumbleweed, helpless and hopelessly addicted to the story. I was so invested that the house could have blown down around me and I may not have noticed. Because Gretchen is one crazy gal, and the setting is so spooky that it gave me nightmares. I LOVE this type of book!Then came the 75% mark, and the story took a very unexpected turn. I admit that my “farfetched plotline” meter was immediately triggered, ringing all alarm bells. It was all so out there! But in the crazy nightmare that had been evoked by Gretchen in her apple print dress, it all still strangely worked. Is it horror? I’m not sure, though some may be freaked out by the final scenes. For me, it felt more like a fever dream, the sort where you know you are hallucinating but unable to clear your head. I wasn’t totally in love with the ending, but it was certainly different! I had to put a lot of kindling to my fledgling embers of the art of suspending disbelief, so if you are similarly afflicted with a total lack of that skill you may want to be forewarned. Once you have read this book, and have recovered your senses (it may take a day or two), make sure to check out the author’s website for her “additional information” link, which added much to the story for me.All in all, GRETCHEN was one hell of a ride like only Kirk can deliver, with the same type of modern Gothic setting that delighted readers of IN THE VINES. It definitely delved into batshit crazy territory! If you are looking for a thoroughly entertaining book with one of the craziest protagonists and creepiest houses I have come across in a while, and an ending that you will never see coming in a million years, then this is definitely for you! Thank you to Netgalley and Thomas & Mercer for the free electronic copy of this novel and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review. *blog* *facebook* *instagram*
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  • Megan
    January 1, 1970
    Gretchen by Shannon Kirk is one of the most unrelenting, intense gothic suspense/horror novels that I have read in a long time! Lucy is a fifteen year old girl who has been on the run with her mom for thirteen years. While she does not know why they are constantly running, she knows that she must never engage with strangers, always wear her colored contacts, and be prepared in an instant to move to the next place. After leaving abruptly when Lucy mistakenly locks eyes with a stranger, Lucy and h Gretchen by Shannon Kirk is one of the most unrelenting, intense gothic suspense/horror novels that I have read in a long time! Lucy is a fifteen year old girl who has been on the run with her mom for thirteen years. While she does not know why they are constantly running, she knows that she must never engage with strangers, always wear her colored contacts, and be prepared in an instant to move to the next place. After leaving abruptly when Lucy mistakenly locks eyes with a stranger, Lucy and her mom go to their eleventh state, New Hampshire. There, they find a seemingly perfect rental property on the grounds of an isolated fortress, complete with hanging traps and electric fences. Their landlords are Jerry, a pianist, and his teenage daughter, Gretchen. It is evident that Gretchen is unusual and doesn't have any friends but she soon becomes Lucy's first real friend. But as their friendship develops, Lucy realizes that Gretchen's intensity has become controlling and unsettling. Gretchen's obsession with puzzles, particularly puzzles with dark themes, concerns Lucy. While Lucy has always honored her mother's wish not to look into her past, Gretchen begins to share who Lucy is. And as Lucy's backstory and secrets begin to unravel, Gretchen's own secrets come to light in a horrifying dangerous way. WOW! Gretchen is an absolutely crazy thrill-ride that had me hooked from the very first page. This story is so dark and intense that I felt like I was holding my breath the whole time I was reading it! It is full of WTF moments and I stopped trying to predict what was going to happen pretty early on because it was full of surprises and shocking moments that I don't think any reader could predict. Kirk's writing style is tailor-made for the suspense/horror genre and held me captive until the very last page. I thought her character development was superb. Each character was carefully crafted and was distinctive, even the minor characters. I thought Lucy was a particularly strong protagonist and her voice was appropriate for a 15 year old girl. There are multiple plot lines in the book but they all weave together well by the end. I loved this book and how it completely captivated me. Kirk is an absolutely amazing storyteller and I definitely have to read In the Vines now! Thank you to Netgalley and Thomas & Mercer for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.5 STARS!
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  • Ludwig
    January 1, 1970
    Readers: Shannon, how much are you planning to disturb, unsettle and creep us out with your next thriller?Shannon: Yes.----------------------------------------------"What the ever-living hell have we gotten ourselves into?"Another thriller, another creepy house full of secrets. A mother and daughter on the run for thirteen years. What are they running from? Will they finally settle at the Sabins Property, even though the owners are the oddest people they've ever met?Leave it to Shannon Kirk to w Readers: Shannon, how much are you planning to disturb, unsettle and creep us out with your next thriller?Shannon: Yes.----------------------------------------------"What the ever-living hell have we gotten ourselves into?"Another thriller, another creepy house full of secrets. A mother and daughter on the run for thirteen years. What are they running from? Will they finally settle at the Sabins Property, even though the owners are the oddest people they've ever met?Leave it to Shannon Kirk to write about complex mother-daughter relationships, creepy settings and deranged characters. Happy to say I enjoyed Gretchen to the fullest! Especially since I'm a huge fan of POVs of complicated teenagers with secrets and dark childhoods. The plot is clear, confident and compelling...with a satisfying addition of the creep factor.I loved the detailed description of The Sabins Property, which is the main lieu of events; The Sabin's fortress looks unsettling from the outside in a very appealing way - if that makes sense - while its inner space feels full-on disturbing, fascinating and claustrophobic. The author knows how to narrate a story in a way that characters and places brim with life, and I was happy to discover that Gretchen has the same signature writing style as In The Vines. Very powerful and unique.Plus, Kudos to the author for the incredible insight depth thrusted into the storyline. I am now fully intrigued by the world of jigsaw puzzles and ornithology. In a sane way. ***Thank you to Thomas & Mercer and Netgalley for providing me with an ARC of GRETCHEN in exchange for an honest review***
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  • Sonica
    January 1, 1970
    Thank. you, Shannon Kirk and Amazon Publishing for my copy of Gretchen, in exchange for my honest review.  This title hits shelves July 23, 2019.This book gave me CHILLS.  It was my first gothic thriller and enjoyed it; definitely a much different pace than what I'm generally used to in the thriller game, but in a good way.  It grabbed and kept my attention immediately and kept me turning the pages to find out how this eery story would ultimately unfold.  Shannon Kirk sure knows how to push the Thank. you, Shannon Kirk and Amazon Publishing for my copy of Gretchen, in exchange for my honest review.  This title hits shelves July 23, 2019.This book gave me CHILLS.  It was my first gothic thriller and enjoyed it; definitely a much different pace than what I'm generally used to in the thriller game, but in a good way.  It grabbed and kept my attention immediately and kept me turning the pages to find out how this eery story would ultimately unfold.  Shannon Kirk sure knows how to push the envelope with her CREEPY writing.  The character of Gretchen will raise the hairs on the back of your neck, with her creeping up everywhere and her one and only outfit that she has multiples of - ultimate CREEP!The ending will have you gasping, I could not believe what was really going on when it finally unraveled - House of Horrors much?!  I won't spoil the plot for anyone who has not yet read this one but do recommend picking this one up if you are a fan of gold storytelling with a gothic flare.
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  • Bridgett
    January 1, 1970
    The winter owl banked just in time to pass and save herself from breaking window glass. --Robert Frost Fellow readers, I honestly don't know how I feel about this book. My gut seems to be leaning more negative than positive. There were just so many competing story lines, at times, it felt...tortured. You know what I mean, right? Like, when you keep curling your hair, but it's not laying the way you desire, so you curl it some more...then some more...and pretty soon, you're rocking a frizzy, o The winter owl banked just in time to pass and save herself from breaking window glass. --Robert Frost Fellow readers, I honestly don't know how I feel about this book. My gut seems to be leaning more negative than positive. There were just so many competing story lines, at times, it felt...tortured. You know what I mean, right? Like, when you keep curling your hair, but it's not laying the way you desire, so you curl it some more...then some more...and pretty soon, you're rocking a frizzy, overworked mess on your head. That's how Gretchen felt to me...frizzy and tortured. Told from two points of view, those of Lucy and Mother, we learn about their nomadic lifestyle, living in 11 different states, while running from Lucy's barbaric father. Gretchen, our title character, is the coo-coo crazy daughter of their equally nutty landlord in New Hampshire. And when I say coo-coo, I mean balls-to-the-wall NUTS.My emotions ran the gamut while reading...there were moments when I laughed out loud (Lucy's reaction to her first family dinner at Gretchen's house), moments when I was totally creeped out (that mansion, it's rooms and hallways...those puzzles), and moments when I found myself rolling my eyes (pretty much the entire final 25% of the novel). The chapters dealing with Mother were deeply boring...page after page of internal dialogue and unnecessary text. The conclusion, while neatly wrapped up, still felt quite abrupt. After finishing, I'm still genuinely not sure how I'd classify this book...I'd say the ending is a thriller, but the first 2/3 felt more like creepy, atmospheric horror. This was an odd one, folks. I foresee there being very little gray here...readers are either going to love Gretchen or hate it. I, unfortunately, fall into the latter category. It took me forever to finish this book...I even missed reviewing prior to the publication deadline...simply because I had no desire to pick it up and read. For a bookworm like me, that's saying something. I don't want to conclude this review, however, without mentioning the stunning, and appropriate, book cover. **Despite my lackluster review, I want to thank NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer for my advanced copy. All opinions are my own.Publication date: July 23, 2019Review published on Goodreads: July 24, 2019
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  • Sue Plant
    January 1, 1970
    would like to thank netgalley and the publisher for letting me read this bookwas this two different books i was reading..starting off as a spooky psychological thriller and then turning into something entirely different but still on a brilliant scale...a woman and a child are in hiding and have been for several years...the little girl has grown into quite a independent young woman who wants to settle in one home and finish school and also earn some money...but for years they havent spent very lo would like to thank netgalley and the publisher for letting me read this bookwas this two different books i was reading..starting off as a spooky psychological thriller and then turning into something entirely different but still on a brilliant scale...a woman and a child are in hiding and have been for several years...the little girl has grown into quite a independent young woman who wants to settle in one home and finish school and also earn some money...but for years they havent spent very long in each state they entered..tell tale signs would come and then there would be the fast packing and then the long journey to the next safe state for them...what they are running from the young girl does not know but she is primed to avoid all situations that bring attention to themselvesits an intriguing story and gets more interesting when they rent some rooms off gretchen and her father...and after reading this story if i ever met a gretchen i would run....brilliant read though and would highly recommend this book and author
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  • Megan Collins
    January 1, 1970
    I could *not* stop reading GRETCHEN. The story follows fifteen-year-old Lucy and her mother, who are constantly on the run from something that Lucy’s mother is definitely not telling the whole truth about. When they land in a small town in New Hampshire (their eleventh state), they do so at a rental house owned by Jerry and his socially awkward (but desperately eager) daughter, Gretchen, who live in a big brick mansion at the top of the property. Although Lucy initially feels at home in this new I could *not* stop reading GRETCHEN. The story follows fifteen-year-old Lucy and her mother, who are constantly on the run from something that Lucy’s mother is definitely not telling the whole truth about. When they land in a small town in New Hampshire (their eleventh state), they do so at a rental house owned by Jerry and his socially awkward (but desperately eager) daughter, Gretchen, who live in a big brick mansion at the top of the property. Although Lucy initially feels at home in this new town, she becomes more and more unsettled as Gretchen reveals herself to be not only awkward, but incredibly creepy as well. As the story unfolds, long-kept secrets get revealed—with devastating consequences. This book creeped me out so much, in the most entertaining way. I *had* to stay up, reading long into the night, to discover not only Gretchen’s secrets, but Lucy’s mother’s as well. There are so many spine-tingling, intriguing details in this novel: Gretchen’s obsession with puzzles, which have taken over every inch of wall space in her house; the terrifying rumors that swirl around Jerry and Gretchen’s property; Jerry’s weird stories about his family’s past, which Gretchen insists aren’t totally true; Gretchen’s aggressive attempts at friendship with Lucy—I could go on and on! There were so many mysterious threads in this story, and while I didn’t feel they all got a satisfying explanation in the end, I was enthralled the entire time. GRETCHEN is a scary, addictive thriller—but it’s also a moving portrayal of a mother’s love and a daughter’s journey toward feeling complete for the first time. Thanks so much to NetGalley, Thomas & Mercer, and Amazon Publishing for the opportunity to read an advance copy.
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  • Robin (ReadItRobi)
    January 1, 1970
    Whoa. Just, whoa. I feel like I just read at least 3 different books for the price of one. Well, I mean it was free from NetGalley, but still, what a deal! So many shady characters, so many good characters that I waited for some of them to go bad! Do NOT miss this book. Thank you to #netgalley for making sure I didn't!Gretchen, Gretchen, Gretchen...what do you do when a girl like Gretchen wants to be your friend? What do you do when you've been on the run your entire life? What do you do when yo Whoa. Just, whoa. I feel like I just read at least 3 different books for the price of one. Well, I mean it was free from NetGalley, but still, what a deal! So many shady characters, so many good characters that I waited for some of them to go bad! Do NOT miss this book. Thank you to #netgalley for making sure I didn't!Gretchen, Gretchen, Gretchen...what do you do when a girl like Gretchen wants to be your friend? What do you do when you've been on the run your entire life? What do you do when you don't know who to trust?Under strict orders from mom, she's not supposed to "engage" with anyone when they arrive in their 11th state and she better not take out those colored contacts to reveal her startling violet eyes again. Lucy is stuck between a haunted house and a hard place. But by morning, she is allowed to be friendly with Gretchen, the creepy little neighbor girl. She is allowed to get a job at the local gourmet grocery. But this comes at a cost, her mother is no longer speaking to her. It's a long terrifying summer for Lucy as her life turns upside down.Yes, there are minor flaws. I felt the chapters focusing on Mother took us out too far out of the main storyline. There was certainly a lot of coincidence involved. But holy crow this was the best walk through a haunted house I've had in years! Sometimes it takes excellent writing like Shannon's to make me realize it's not the destination, but the eerie journey that I enjoy the most.But, is it weird that I think I'd really like one of those cute apple print sundresses?
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  • Octavia (ReadsWithDogs)
    January 1, 1970
    Review coming soon on the Night Worms blog
  • Bojoura
    January 1, 1970
    Me; I really need a disturbing, do not see this twist coming, creepy read. Give me an unsettling and dark story.Shannon; Yes dear, coming right up.Something completely different is how I would describe this story, this was such an amazing dark thriller. Creepy house full of secrects, deranged characters, disturbing settings. Everything I wish for in a thriller! The writing is so atmospheric and haunting, I need time to process this diabolical and you will not guess the plot twists read. I need m Me; I really need a disturbing, do not see this twist coming, creepy read. Give me an unsettling and dark story.Shannon; Yes dear, coming right up.Something completely different is how I would describe this story, this was such an amazing dark thriller. Creepy house full of secrects, deranged characters, disturbing settings. Everything I wish for in a thriller! The writing is so atmospheric and haunting, I need time to process this diabolical and you will not guess the plot twists read. I need more Shannon Kirk.
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  • Victoria
    January 1, 1970
    Last year, I read and listened to Kirk's book, In The Vines, so I was curious about this one, her latest book! The format switches between two perspectives - 15 year old Lucy who is tired of her life on the lam and her mother's voice. This works more to drive the plot forward and keep the reader guessing than to really develop the characters, unfortunately. The plot's initial twists may not surprise everyone, but the later insanity is definitely hard to see coming! There isn't really enough foun Last year, I read and listened to Kirk's book, In The Vines, so I was curious about this one, her latest book! The format switches between two perspectives - 15 year old Lucy who is tired of her life on the lam and her mother's voice. This works more to drive the plot forward and keep the reader guessing than to really develop the characters, unfortunately. The plot's initial twists may not surprise everyone, but the later insanity is definitely hard to see coming! There isn't really enough foundation for some of them (trying not to give anything away inadvertently here, so my apologies for sounding vague!) which really makes up my main complain about this one. The ending has some Scooby Doo style explanations that lacks depth. The house in Millberg, New Hampshire has some interesting background that doesn't really fit with the rest of the story. It's almost as if two separate novels were combined into this one and it doesn't really fit well at the seams, as the last third of the book really is rather jarring. The book is just unbalanced and the "friendships" here defy logic (probably because the character's aren't deeply developed and never feel authentic). It's just a rather unbelievable book that relies on the plot to move forward based on coincidence. Plus, the villains of the story leave a lot of unanswered questions, too. And yet, it is an engaging read and I never once considered setting it aside.. I just wish that there had been more depth to the characters and the book required less suspension of disbelief. If you don't think too much about this one, it is pretty entertaining....
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  • KELLY A.
    January 1, 1970
    Shannon Kirk remains one of my all-time favorite authors because of her ability to create atmospheric worlds, thick tension, creepy “bad” guys, and textured female relationships. This book is twisty (and twisted) without being self-indulgent, and what seems the obvious storyline is not what Kirk delivers. With GRETCHEN, Kirk has solidified her place as a master of modern thrillers.
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  • Jessica
    January 1, 1970
    All Lucy has ever known is life on the run. Together with her mother, they have hopped from state to state the moment someone gets too close, the moment they heard someone say “you remind me of someone”, the moment they felt eyes linger on them for too long. Lucy has never known the real reason they are on the run. She has never known what drives her mother’s paranoia.After thirteen years on the run, Lucy and her mother have landed in a town that Lucy feels is perfect. She can see a future here. All Lucy has ever known is life on the run. Together with her mother, they have hopped from state to state the moment someone gets too close, the moment they heard someone say “you remind me of someone”, the moment they felt eyes linger on them for too long. Lucy has never known the real reason they are on the run. She has never known what drives her mother’s paranoia.After thirteen years on the run, Lucy and her mother have landed in a town that Lucy feels is perfect. She can see a future here. A chance to go to school and hold a job like a normal teenager. There are a few things less than desirable about their new living situation. Their new home is located in the isolated New Hampshire woods on the outskirts of town. The landlord and his daughter live on the property in a house up the hill. The father is a pianist obsessed with wearing gloves to protect his hands. The daughter, Gretchen, is Lucy’s age and has all the makings of a perfect friend if only she could shake the possessiveness. Lucy is willing to look away from the flaws and fight for a place to call home, but is she denying too much of what is really happening around her?WOW!! This review is going to be so hard to encompass all of the thoughts and feelings I have over this amazing book! Last year you might remember me raving over Shannon Kirk and her book, IN THE VINES. Well be prepared to never hear me stop talking about GRETCHEN! This book truly has everything I look for in crime fiction. There is a likeable narrator struggling through a personal drama, an atmospheric location that sets the stage for dread, and a cast of characters that are hiding so many secrets it’s hard to keep up. Whatever you think you’re getting into with this book, it’s that and so much more!The narration of this story is split between Lucy and her mother. With each switch in narrator the reader slowly gains a hold on Lucy’s current life, as well as background from her mother to how living on the run came to be. All of the years Lucy was a baby and a toddler are covered with the mother’s perspective. What’s unique is that Lucy is unaware of the majority of what the reader learns in these passages. I love that Lucy has only a partial grip on her reality and is moving forward to the best of her abilities. She is an incredibly strong character who the reader can truly bond with.Alongside Lucy are a cast of characters that no reader will soon forget. There are many that I loved and could mention, but not without giving away spoilers. I’ll keep those for chats with others who have read this book and focus on Gretchen. What a strange little girl! I’ve never been so fascinated by a non-narrator/main character the way I was with Gretchen. From learning about what makes her tick, watching her interactions with Lucy, and sitting front row for all of her crazy shenanigans...holy crap! Gretchen is an amazing character that I won’t be forgetting any time soon!Similar to IN THE VINES, Kirk has mastered within the pages of GRETCHEN, how to use the setting of the story to make the words come to life for the reader. It didn’t matter what town I was in or what house I was walking through. I could vividly imagine all of the places mentioned in this book and truly felt transported into the story. Not only could I envision these places with utmost clarity, but because of that I could also feel every emotion coming from the characters.At the end of the day, what you need to know is GRETCHEN is an amazing read and it needs to be on your TBR right now!Disclosure: A huge thank you to Shannon Kirk for sending me a free copy of her book in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Denise
    January 1, 1970
    Gretchen may be a little strange, but she's harmless -- right?If you haven't yet seen buzz about this book, believe me, you will. It's one of those that you go into without any preparation or expectation so that you can be properly blown away by it. It's not often that a book surprises me, but this was masterful writing and incredibly entertaining. I was hooked immediately and couldn't put it down until I had finished. Let my breath go. And read the supplemental material that is best saved for l Gretchen may be a little strange, but she's harmless -- right?If you haven't yet seen buzz about this book, believe me, you will. It's one of those that you go into without any preparation or expectation so that you can be properly blown away by it. It's not often that a book surprises me, but this was masterful writing and incredibly entertaining. I was hooked immediately and couldn't put it down until I had finished. Let my breath go. And read the supplemental material that is best saved for last. Go on, get it now!What it's about: Lucy is "fifteen, living in (our) tenth state, in (my) third high school already." She and her mom have been moving from place to place for the past thirteen years. There's always a trigger that makes them run -- someone gets too close or asks too many questions. Mom has told Lucy why -- Lucy's dad tried to steal her when she was 2 and mom got her back. Now they have to stay hidden from him. Lucy has no other information about her powerful, connected father, nor does she know her real name as they use fake IDs. They are very careful, but when someone slips up, they have to leave in the dead of night. Lucy is devatated to leave her latest home and her new best friend, Jenny, but Lucy makes a mistake and off they go again. The mother and daughter arrive in Milberg, New Hampshire, and fall in love with their rented one-story ranch house that's situated on a huge property with the owners living just up the hill in a colossal brick mansion. The father and daughter who own the place are a bit strange, but the girl is Lucy's age and wants to be immediate friends. Her name is Gretchen. Lucy is determined to stay and will do whatever it takes. She, however, did not plan for Gretchen. NO SPOILERS.Why you should read this: First of all, the writing is simply masterful. The setting is well-described and the sense of menace and a creepy vibe is lurking in the background. Great material for quoting, but I couldn't highlight every sentence! I could picture it all so vividly. The depth of the characterization was amazing as I fell in love with Lucy immediately. She had so much personality and was totally believable. The narrative shifts a bit between characters allowing glimpses into their perspectives and thoughts which adds to the overall tone and forward movement of the story. The plot, well, it is quite complex and I didn't see a thing coming -- a refreshing surprise. I could say a lot more, but won't because I don't want to give any hints. Believe me, you'd never expect this engrossing tale from the synopsis. Plus, you want to read this so you'll be able to talk about it with other folks who've read it and cackle gleefully cause you know all the answers! Who wants to be first to buy a ticket for the big screen version?Thank you to NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer for the e-book ARC to read and review. I'm definitely going to be following this author!
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  • Diana
    January 1, 1970
    Lucy and her mother are always on the move- she is 15 and they have lived in 11 states since she was age 2. Lucy’s Mom tells her they are hiding from her father who kidnapped her as a baby and is still looking for them to take Lucy to a country where women have little to no rights. Lucy has gotten used to wearing contacts to cover her distinctive violet eyes, to changing her name, to packing and moving overnight, to the lies her mother has created as cover stories. She is not allowed a phone wit Lucy and her mother are always on the move- she is 15 and they have lived in 11 states since she was age 2. Lucy’s Mom tells her they are hiding from her father who kidnapped her as a baby and is still looking for them to take Lucy to a country where women have little to no rights. Lucy has gotten used to wearing contacts to cover her distinctive violet eyes, to changing her name, to packing and moving overnight, to the lies her mother has created as cover stories. She is not allowed a phone with internet access and she and her mother rarely go out together in public. On one of these rare outings Lucy leaves her contacts out and encounters a man who seems to recognize her which leads to another move - this time to New Hampshire. Her mom found a small cottage in a tourist town where she hopes they will not stand out as much. Upon meeting the owners of the rental a recuperating pianist and his odd daughter Gretchen, Lucy’s Mom senses red flags and wants to keep moving but Lucy rebels. She is tired of running and hopes to have a friend in Gretchen - her mom has even told her she can have a job. Lucy begins keeping secrets from her mom to avoid having to leave. Gretchen is determined to be friends with Lucy. Everyone has a kid they remember who was an outcast because of being a little different- in the case of Gretchen, it might be warranted. She is beyond creepy/weird/intrusive. I couldn’t read the first two thirds of this book fast enough but like other reviewers have stated the last third was a struggle. Some of the character backstories may have been helpful, the it seemed as though it took a turn and I deducted a star for that. There are parts that truly strain credibility but that is why it is fiction I guess. Thank you to #netgalley and the publisher for the advance copy- I can’t wait to read “In the Vines” next.
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