Book Review: All Things Cease To Appear by Elizabeth Brundage

“Maybe killing comes naturally to people, an instinct nobody likes to admit, a survival reflex inherited from our Neanderthal cousins. So maybe it’s the other stuff, the good manners that supposedly make us human, that are the real aberrations.”

― Elizabeth Brundage, All Things Cease to Appear 

A disturbing, compelling, and wonderfully written work from an author that mixes thriller and gothic in a narrative about two families intertwined in their own sadness, centered on a horrible and unsolved murder. This is an excellent examination of the myriad taints that may damage very diverse individuals, and even a whole town, as well as a deep and complicated depiction of a psychopath and a relationship. 

Synopsis from Goodreads...

Late one winter afternoon in upstate New York, George Clare comes home to find his wife killed and their three-year-old daughter alone—for how many hours?—in her room across the hall. He had recently, begrudgingly, taken a position at a nearby private college (far too expensive for local kids to attend) teaching art history, and moved his family into a tight-knit, impoverished town that has lately been discovered by wealthy outsiders in search of a rural idyll.

George is of course the immediate suspect—the question of his guilt echoing in a story shot through with secrets both personal and professional. While his parents rescue him from suspicion, a persistent cop is stymied at every turn in proving Clare a heartless murderer. And three teenage brothers (orphaned by tragic circumstances) find themselves entangled in this mystery, not least because the Clares had moved into their childhood home, a once-thriving dairy farm. The pall of death is ongoing, and relentless; behind one crime there are others, and more than twenty years will pass before a hard kind of justice is finally served.

My reaction to this novel...

I chose to read it after watching the trailer for the film version of this novel on Netflix. I prefer to read the novel version before viewing the movie, so when I found out that "Things Heard & Seen" was based on this novel, I ran out and bought it.

There are almost no quotation marks used in the dialogue in this book, which is not something I appreciate in a novel. It's hard for me to distinguish if someone is speaking already or who is uttering those words because I became so absorbed in the book. Not a single indication. Despite the fact that I am aware this book is a psychological thriller, a genre I really appreciate, I found it to be both perplexing and dull. Furthermore, it came to the point where I stopped being interested in what was happening and started skipping several words and sections since it was boring. Nothing happened, not even when the story finally reached the present.

Another thing I don't like about it is how quickly scenes from the past and the present shift. Since I had a hard time following what was happening and was exhausted from reading this long book, I found it to be pretty challenging.

Sincerely, I was let down by this book. It is not something I would recommend.

My Overall Rating: ⭐(1/5)


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