Just Like Home

Just Like Home by Sarah Gailey (The Echo Wife; Upright Women Wanted; Magic for Liars) is a blood-soaked psychological thriller crafted to keep readers up at night. Vera Crowder, daughter of infamous serial killer Francis Crowder, has been called back to her childhood home--and the site of her father's brutal murders--by her dying mother, Daphne. And while Vera anticipated the challenge of dealing with her estranged mother, what she finds is much worse. An opportunistic artist has moved into the house, intent on exploiting its sordid history, and an uncannily familiar dark force lurks in the house's corners. Soon it becomes clear that no matter where Vera goes, the Crowder House will always call her back.

Gailey's patient plotting carefully constructs a complex and twisted family dynamic, both in the past and the present, among Vera, Daphne and Francis. These relationships ultimately form the core of the novel, as Vera balances on a knife's edge between pragmatic emotionlessness and a descent into the terror and apprehension her parents wrought. While the shudder-inducing family dynamic--defined by scenes such as Francis giving Vera "the talk" while gutting a fish--undergirds the novel, Gailey's strong attention to atmospheric details gives it a true gothic horror flare. It's the details--from the sticky-sweet taste of lemonade to the slick, inescapable sensation of grease--that will viscerally disturb readers, and are guaranteed to take up residence in their minds and refuse to leave. --Alice Martin, freelance writer and editor

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