In a tale inspired by real events, pregnant journalist Joan Harken is cautiously excited to follow her fiancé back to his Minnesota hometown. After spending a childhood on the move and chasing the screams and swirls of news-rich city life, she’s eager to settle down. Lilydale’s motto, “Come Home Forever,” couldn’t be more inviting.
And yet, something is off in the picture-perfect village.
The friendliness borders on intrusive. Joan can’t shake the feeling that every move she makes is being tracked. An archaic organization still seems to hold the town in thrall. So does the sinister secret of a little boy who vanished decades ago. And unless Joan is imagining things, a frighteningly familiar figure from her past is on watch in the shadows.
Her fiancé tells her she’s being paranoid. He might be right. Then again, she might have moved to the deadliest small town on earth.
Joan and her boyfriend move to the small town of Lilydale, a seemingly perfect place. However, right from the start it was clear that something was terribly wrong with the town. The was an almost cultic vibe. I know it is said that everyone knows everyone in small towns but the level of familiarity and intrusion in Lilydale was skin crawling.
The characters are an interesting mix. The MC, Joan, is complex. She is easy to root for as the outsider in the small, creepy town. She did have her own weirdness though and hence made an unreliable relator which I always enjoy in thrillers. I won’t say much about the other characters so as not to spoil the story but also because they were quite many. I still can’t keep most of them straight in my mind.
This was a disturbing, creepy read that made me appreciate city life. I enjoyed the description of the town and the 1960s time period. I liked seeing how things played out before the internet era, a time when people still had to make calls on the phone booth. The author did a magnificent job with the imagery, the town and time really did come alive through the chapters. The claustrophobic feeling created by the setting and characters made this an even more tense read. In the end, I didn’t love the story like I thought I would but I certainly did enjoy it enough.