I have some deeply mixed feelings about this book, and since I don’t know how to talk about my reading experience without discussing plot elements, this review is definitely going to contain vauge-ish spoilers.
I’ve read some of Jennifer Dugan’s other books, and this one was wildly different. The placing and themes were definitely those of a slow-burn thriller, and I liked that I was consistently gaslit by the narrator. Sloan’s progression through the novel was believable and incremental, and I liked that the ending didn’t play into some of the tropes that the rest of the book hinted at re: adoptive families, etc.
The end also made me go, “WTF?” in part because of the loooooooong conversations trying to explain certain aspects of the story. And while I didn’t love all the stuff surrounding the cult of animal-masked murderers and rituals, I understand why Dugan included some of those things. Overall, I enjoyed the ideas, but not necessarily the execution.
That said, up until the ending, the books was a solid four stars for me. And I was literally sitting there at 93% percent white-knuckling it through the end and going, “What is real!?” As for the ending itself, I think it fumbled the landing, but I can’t deny that those last pages were powerful, and the final twist (?) was inevitable. I love this genre, and while this book left me not-quite-satisfied, it was certainly much closer to the mark than The Final Girl Support Group, which tackles similar ideas but with less nuance and subtlety.