Title: The Overnight Guest
Author: Heather Gudenkauf
Publication: January 25, 2022
Publisher: Park Row
SYNOPSIS: (From Goodreads)
She thought she was alone…
True crime writer Wylie Lark doesn’t mind being snowed in at the isolated farmhouse where she’s retreated to write her new book. A cozy fire, complete silence. It would be perfect, if not for the fact that decades earlier, at this very house, two people were murdered in cold blood and a girl disappeared without a trace.
As the storm worsens, Wylie finds herself trapped inside the house, haunted by the secrets contained within its walls—haunted by secrets of her own. Then she discovers a small child in the snow just outside. After bringing the child inside for warmth and safety, she begins to search for answers. But soon it becomes clear that the farmhouse isn’t as isolated as she thought, and someone is willing to do anything to find them.
**A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**
Nothing is scarier than a winter storm in the middle of no where and coming across a random person that you then have to let into your house. That sounds like my worst nightmare. But that is exactly what happens in this book. Queue shudders.
The story focuses on three different stories that slowly build until it clicks how they are all related and why you are reading them. The main story follows Wylie, a writer who is writing her next true crime novel about a murder that happened in the small, rural farming community of Burden. There is another story that follows a woman and her daughter who appear to be in a bad home situation and the last story flashes back to years before when an entire family, the one Wylie is writing about, was murdered and attacked in their home.
At first I was a little perturbed as to why we were jumping around so much to these seemingly unrelated stories. I knew they would tie in eventually, but jumping around is not my favorite thing. However, the more I got into The Overnight Guest, the more I understood the importance of these three different parts. I quite liked Wylie, even though she was a bit of a mystery. Quiet, seemed to be afraid of the dark, but chose willingly to live in the middle of no where while writing this book. I was very curious about her family issues she mentioned here and there. She just seemed like an interesting individual. She also was a good individual. She tried to help those around her, even at the risk of injury herself.
Josie was probably my favorite character. She was skirting that line between innocence and being young and the world being a beautiful place, and growing into a teenager like her friend Becky where interests had started to shift. She just wanted to have fun, enjoy a sleepover with her best friend, and laugh. It was a bit heartbreaking watching her learn that not everything is wonderful and that bad things happen to good people.
While the jumping around was not my favorite originally, the story did flow very well and you understand why those other stories are important as you get into the book. I also was not able to figure out the ending, which is always my favorite part of reading a mystery. If I can guess the ending early on, I feel like it takes some of the magic away. This one I didn’t see coming until it was revealed. I think Gudenkauf did a great job of writing strong female characters. It almost seemed like a female vs. male story, even if that is not what the author had intended. I enjoyed the full circle effect of the story and how it was wrapped up. Oh, and be warned, a little bit of gore is in the descriptions of crime scenes… for those with a weak stomach.
I didn’t feel a lot of suspense in this book, although there was an underlying twinge of it. The air of mystery surrounding everything happening definitely kept me on the edge of my seat. If you love a good who-dun-it, then The Overnight Guest is for you. I’m interested to pick up more from Heather Gudenkauf. She won me over with this slow building, simmering fire of a plot that kept me furiously flipping pages to see how it would end.