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October 5, 2017

Review: The Visitors by Catherine Burns

by Donna Huber

This Halloween are you looking for a macabre tale where the monsters aren't goblins and ghouls but regular humans? Then you must pick up The Visitors by Catherine Burns.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

The Visitors
September 2017; Gallery/Scout Press
9781501164019; ebook, audio, print (304 pages)
I don't read horror, but I love hard-pounding thrillers that push the line of horrific. I was reading the opening chapters of The Visitors through my fingers. I was on tenterhooks knowing that something bad was going to happen, but I wasn't able to stop reading. The book really pulls you in and doesn't let up until the last page is turned.

The Visitors had a gothic feel to it, although it is set in a seaside town in present-day UK. I'm sure it is the dank, decaying family home the brother and sister reside and the dark nature of the story that gave it a gothic vibe. But the hallmarks of the genre - mystery and terror - are definitely there.

Burns created a sympathetic character in the unreliable narrator of Marion. She is a 50-something woman with a low IQ. I had wondered if she had Downs Syndrome as there is mention of her mother having been in her 40s when Marion was born. If that is the case, nothing was done for her. When she couldn't pass the entrance test to a prestigious school, her parents funded the new swimming pool. It wasn't just her intellect that was ignored. you get the impression that she was all but neglected as a child. So was her brother, except when he joined their father in the cellar.

Unlike Marion, her brother has a higher than average IQ, attends Oxford and takes a teaching position at a girls boarding school (though he could have been a doctor or engineer), until he resigns under suspicion of inappropriate behavior with a student.

Watch out for red herrings! The interweaving memories of Marion's childhood with present-day actions create a fragmented story that leads the reader one way only to later turn them around and lead them in a different direction. While at the same time your biases for the characters war with what you read on the page, creating an incredulous internal conflict for the reader. Seriously, you are going to be emotionally entangled in this story.

There is some psychic stuff, which is probably the only disappointment I had with the story. I thought on psychic scene revealed too much, too early in the story. It also felt like an interruption to the flow of the story. But it really is minor.

For those who don't go in for the paranormal for Halloween, this really is the perfect read for the season.

Buy The Visitors at Amazon

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

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