I didn’t think the sequel to Still House could get any better as the first novel raised a high bar. I was wrong; I’m both glad and disturbed that it was better. This collection takes a dark turn in this novel and even though it’s cruel and agonising at times, it’s next to impossible to stop reading it. I’m getting ahead of myself though.
When Gwen Proctor won the battle to protect her children from her ex-husband, serial killer Melvin Royal, she thought the war was won too. She was wrong. Things take a dark turn when Melvin escapes from prison and threatens her family’s lives. This time, however, she refuses to be the hunted. Not longer safe at Stillhouse, Gwen leaves her children, Connor and Lanny, in the custody of a well-armed neighbour and goes hunting. Who knew that knowing one of the sickest serial killers gave you some essential knowledge? Together with the brother of one of the many victims, Larry, how far is she willing to go to protect her children? Very, very far.
It’s a strong and dark sequel; it made me stay glued to its page even when it got unbearable. A complete washing machine of emotions and moments that keep the reader on the seat. The pace of the story is fast, full of action and non-stop suspense. Unlike the unique perspective of the main female character, in the sequel, the reader has four perspectives: Gwen, her children and Lanny. Rachel Caine manages the different points-of-view perfectly and it’s easy to jump from one to the other without getting lost in the process.
The setting is much darker than the previous instalment. Caine takes us on a dark journey through the world of torture, child pornography and the exchanges made on the dark side of the internet.
The characters are incredible, more than in the first book. Now that we’ve been introduced to Gwen and her works of her serial killer ex-husband, this novel explores the effect of all the moving, close calls and the lasting repercussions of being implicated in the horrid works of a monster. It was a bit heartbreaking to read the doubt in the minds of the children, questioning their mothers’ motivations and actions. Gwen is still a woman to be reckoned with, even more than before. Now, she’s tired of running and ready to do whatever it takes to have peace. Her emotions and her attitude make her one of the most believable characters I’ve read so far this year. The villain is both scary and incredibly imagined. The way he’s described and his style of hunting had me looking over my shoulder in the street.
Caine raised the bar very high for the next installment. I can’t wait to see what she will create next. I recommend this book to all the fans of a good, heart-stopping thriller filled with action.
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Thomas & Mercer and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.