Narrator: Angela Dawe
Published by Macmillan Audio on September 12, 2023
Length: 9 hrs 6 mins
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Laney Kilpatrick has been renting her vacation home to strangers. The invasion of privacy gives her panic attacks, but it’s the only way she can keep her beloved Hemlock Island, the only thing she owns after a pandemic-fueled divorce. But broken belongings and campfires that nearly burn down the house have escalated to bloody bones, hex circles, and now, terrified renters who’ve fled after finding blood and nail marks all over the guest room closet, as though someone tried to claw their way out…and failed.
When Laney shows up to investigate with her teenaged niece in tow, she discovers that her ex, Kit, has also been informed and is there with Jayla, his sister and her former best friend. Then Sadie, another old high school friend, charters over with her brother, who’s now a cop.
There are tensions and secrets, whispers in the woods, and before long, the discovery of a hand poking up from the earth. Then the body that goes with it… But by that time, someone has taken off with their one and only means off the island, and they’re trapped with someone—or something—that doesn’t want them leaving the island alive.
I don’t read a lot of horror, but once in a while once grabs my attention. Hemlock Island revolves around Laney Kilpatrick, an English teacher and thriller author who is recently divorced and is grieving her sister who lost her battle to cancer. She is raising her 16-year-old niece, Madison, and reluctantly renting her vacation home on a remote island to strangers. Things get out of control when the renters call her in the middle of the night to inform her that there are blood and nail marks all over the guest room’s closet. Laney goes out to the house with her niece Madison. Her ex-husband, Kit, also shows up with his sister, Jayla. And then, we have Sadie, a former friend from high school, and her brother, Garrett, who is now a cop. There is so much tension in the group, but we gradually learn about their relationships and secrets. Then one of their group goes missing – and they find a severed hand.
Hemlock Island sucked me right in. There is a killer on the island, there must be. Of course, this is horror, not mystery, and what Laney and her friends discover gets creepier and creepier. Have you ever played Spirit Island? It’s kind of like that.
i will say I was a little disappointed in the ending. Not in the supernatural that Armstrong worked into the plot, that I was expecting. Sometimes I just want authors to go a little further with what they’re doing – kill the character we’re hoping doesn’t die, give us that plot twist that actually surprises us. Armstrong doesn’t quite do it, so we get a pretty happy ending, given the potentials. Once again, I don’t read a lot of horror. Maybe we need the happy ending to compensate for the pain and torture the characters go through?
I listened to the audio and the narrator did an excellent job. It’s a good, spooky read for the season.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: