Armed with only hazy memories, a woman who long ago witnessed her friend’s sudden, mysterious death, and has since spent her life trying to forget, sets out to track down answers. What she uncovers, deep in the woods, is hardly to be believed….
Maya was a high school senior when her best friend, Aubrey, mysteriously dropped dead in front of the enigmatic man named Frank whom they’d been spending time with all summer.
Seven years later, Maya lives in Boston with a loving boyfriend and is kicking the secret addiction that has allowed her to cope with what happened years ago, the gaps in her memories, and the lost time that she can’t account for. But her past comes rushing back when she comes across a recent YouTube video in which a young woman suddenly keels over and dies in a diner while sitting across from none other than Frank. Plunged into the trauma that has defined her life, Maya heads to her Berkshires hometown to relive that fateful summer–the influence Frank once had on her and the obsessive jealousy that nearly destroyed her friendship with Aubrey.
At her mother’s house, she excavates fragments of her past and notices hidden messages in her deceased Guatemalan father’s book that didn’t stand out to her earlier. To save herself, she must understand a story written before she was born, but time keeps running out, and soon, all roads are leading back to Frank’s cabin….
The mysterious key on the cover, something deep in the woods, hazy memories, and a sudden death. If books had tentacles, these reached out and drew me in.
It’s been seven years since Maya’s best friend dropped dead, and Maya’s still struggling. No longer able to get the sleeping medication her doctor prescribed several years ago, she’s also suffering from withdrawal and hiding it from her boyfriend. With a history of mental illness in her family, everything she’s dealing with, and the occasional tone of the story, I even questioned if Maya is an unreliable narrator. Are her memories real?
The chapters rotate seamlessly between the summer Maya meets Frank and the present when she’s determined to discover what really happened. Although she’s not always likeable, I understood her burning need to learn the truth. It’s just the way she goes about it is pretty selfish sometimes. Her memories feel off kilter from that summer, and it’s a slow burn until the final reveal. My suspicions were partly correct and while fascinating, they’re pretty chilling.
Pacing is a little uneven, but fans of psychological thrillers and unreliable narrators will spend an enjoyable few hours with this novel.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.