Four members of the Quinlan family – surgeon Aaron, his adored teenaged sister Bridget called Bridge, middle child Franny mourning the son she lost because of her addiction to heroin, and mother Eleanor – gather at Belfountain Estate to hear the terms of Ray Quinlan’s will. A largely absent father and husband, he was a secretive man – no one knew of this spectacular estate, not to mention a sizeable fortune which they stand to inherit. But there’s a catch. The four must stay at Belfountain for 30 days, with no technology or outside contact, starting immediately, or all the money goes to a charity.
Following heated discussion, they agree to stay, only to be dumbfounded when another group of Quinlans arrives. That’s not Dad’s only secret. Things turn very strange very quickly, as the group finds itself under attack and one person dies. Then another. Will anyone survive to inherit? I really wanted to like this book but it just got worse and worse as I went along. I was a bit creeped out by Aaron’s devotion to his sister, though most will probably find it touching. (Keep in mind, I think Robert Munsch’s Love You Forever is creepy.) Pyper, who won an award for The Demonologist, is a skilled descriptor. He creates a world that is alive with dangers: in one scene, he writes, the walls of an underground passage “bulged outward like an inflamed throat.” And while the description and dialogue are well done, the characters are one-sided and were just too thinly drawn, except for Aaron and Bridge, to really resonate with me or engender any sympathy. It’s horrifying and confusing, a blend of sci-fi, horror, and the mystery genres. I read it through to the end but not with the delight I’d hoped for. I didn’t see the ending coming, which is always good. It’s also definitely fast-paced and thrilling, good signs for fans of horror fiction and those who like dystopian political medical sci-fi thrillers, but it just wasn’t for me. My thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada for the advance reading copy provided digitally through NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review. My local Grand Forks & District Public Library has a copy available for borrowing as well.
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