You Let Me In by Camilla Bruce
|You Let Me In by Camilla Bruce
|Category: General Fiction
|Reviewer: Stephen Leach
|Summary: A short and creepy book about the creatures who live in the margins. Hideously dark, and delights in unsettling and misdirecting the reader.
|Date: March 2020
|Publisher: Bantam Press
|External links: Author's website
Eccentric, isolated romance novelist Cassandra Tipp has been missing for a year and has been pronounced legally dead by her lawyers. Her will instructs her niece and nephew to enter her home and find the key to their inheritance in an old manuscript left in her office: the last story she'll ever tell.
I wasn't expecting You Let Me In to go the way it did, but I was floored by it. This book absolutely seethes with grisly revelations and familial tensions. It's a story about cruelty and mental illness, about anger and abandonment. It's a take on faerie mythology that follows all the standard conventions, yet still felt fresh and mysterious. And yet it isn't really a thriller; it doesn't so much tell the plot as it unfurls it slowly, unwinding each fact we're told slowly as the narrator confides one more layer to her readers. I wasn't on the edge of my seat, but I was never bored.
For such a short read, You Let Me In packs in all sorts of strange and beautiful ideas, and some of the imagery is often quite striking. None of the characters escape unharmed, and all are cast into question by the novel's central theme: the convoluted and elusive nature of the truth. Whether her accounts of dalliances with faeries and journeys into the unknown are simply figments of her delusions, or all entirely real, is left unsaid, and everything we learn is cast into question by the differing interpretations of each character and the critical viewpoint given by Cassandra's childhood doctor.
Some readers might find the slow, slightly repetitive nature of the narration off-putting, and that's understandable. This is a story that has divided opinion – the Goodreads page is a mess – and it's definitely not a fairy tale.
It's an era of spellbinding, darkly enticing thrillers by female authors and I can think of so many more to recommend: Meet Me At The Boathouse by Suzanne Bugler, The Grownup by Gillian Flynn, and Little Darlings by Melanie Golding.
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