A group of friends reunite after one of them has returned from a mysterious two-year disappearance in this edgy and haunting debut.
Julie is missing, and no one believes she will ever return—except Elise. Elise knows Julie better than anyone, and feels it in her bones that her best friend is out there and that one day Julie will come back. She’s right. Two years to the day that Julie went missing, she reappears with no memory of where she’s been or what happened to her.
Along with Molly and Mae, their two close friends from college, the women decide to reunite at a remote inn. But the second Elise sees Julie, she knows something is wrong—she’s emaciated, with sallow skin and odd appetites. And as the weekend unfurls, it becomes impossible to deny that the Julie who vanished two years ago is not the same Julie who came back. But then who—or what—is she?
Amazon Link: The Return
Author: Rachel Harrison
Genre: Paranormal thriller
Rating: 5/5 stars
I mostly read fantasy, but after I bingewatched the first season of Yellowjackets, I was craving more horror/thriller stories. And Tor.com gave me a list of books recommended that were similar to Yellowjackets. I’d already read two of them (Wylding Hall and Brand New Cherry Flavor), so I was eager to try the others. I didn’t like Picnic at Hanging Rock, but The Return delivered in the thrills I was looking for.
This was a compelling story that built a strong feeling of dread with a great payoff at the end. I couldn’t read it after dark because it was so creepy, but it was like a horror movie that I couldn’t look away from.
The hotel reminded me of the Brookdale Lodge with its sordid history, age, and even architectural style. All it was missing was the underwater window between the indoor pool and the bar. A great setting.
But the real treat was the complicated friendships between all the women. They felt very realistic in the way that they wanted to stay close even after their lives had grown apart. All the layers that had built up over the years were obvious in the ways that they interacted and avoided talking about certain subjects.
I was surprised that the main character escaped with her life, but it wasn’t a happy ending because the monster was still out there and she might always get caught again. So she had to live with the guilt and fear for the rest of her life. Spooky!
Here is the book in my reading journal: