Just Like Home | Review
Rating - ⭐⭐
"Come home. Vera’s mother called and Vera obeyed. In spite of their long estrangement, in spite of the memories -- she's come back to the home of a serial killer. Back to face the love she had for her father and the bodies he buried there.
Coming home is hard enough for Vera, and to make things worse, she and her mother aren’t alone. A parasitic artist has moved into the guest house out back, and is slowly stripping Vera’s childhood for spare parts. He insists that he isn’t the one leaving notes around the house in her father’s handwriting… but who else could it possibly be?
There are secrets yet undiscovered in the foundations of the notorious Crowder House. Vera must face them, and find out for herself just how deep the rot goes."
Just Like Home is an adult horror book by Sarah Gailey.
First and foremost, I would like to thank NetGalley and Tor Books for giving me the opportunity to review this book in advance. Please note that this in no way affects my opinions. Also note that what I read was an ARC, and things may be subject to change for the official release.
The only word I have for this book is no because this turned out to be all kinds of nope for me. This was not a book for me, and I didn't enjoy my time reading this at all to the point where my two-star rating may be generous.
Let's get into the details.
This book may end up being a lot shorter than it appears as the ARC was only 285 pages while the actual book is 352. But, besides it being shorter than you may expect, I can't complain about the writing. It was easy to read and the right amount of description and information was given without overloading you.
We follow Vera, who goes back to her childhood home, the Crowder House, after her dying mother calls her back to sort things out before her passing. This premise, by itself, is nothing new when it comes to horror or mystery books, but it is not a bad one if done well. The problem here is that I didn't like the way the book handled it.
There were layers to the plot, and some of the layers were intriguing, but they amounted to nothing interesting in the end which was disappointing. It also took a while for the different subplots to line up which was a pacing issue. Despite the layering though, the plot was rather simple, as it mainly was concerning Vera's strained relationship with both her mom, and the townspeople, but also the man living in the house, which I didn't find very interesting to read.
I also simply didn't like the direction the story went in. The further I got into the book, the more I kept questioning what was going on because of the abrupt shift in tone. There were also scenes in the book that didn't add anything to the narrative, such as (no spoilers here) Vera talking about how she doesn't drink, but then proceeds to go to a bar and then leave after ordering.
As this is a horror book, there of course had to be some horror elements in it, which I didn't think was effective. The horror was more of a slow burn with only some underlying tension occurring and it was more on the psychological side as well. Any kind of horror though ended up being ruined because I didn't enjoy Vera's perspective.
A big flaw of the book was the characters, as no one was likable. I always say that when it comes to characters, they don't have to be likable if the plot is able to overtake your negative emotions towards them. When you don't like the plot as well though, it makes things all the worse.
Vera, Daphne (the mom) and James (the guest) all had no redeeming qualities and their relationships were a mess that I just didn't care to read about. Vera specifically ended up passing the point of no return for me, and it ended up completely ruining the story more than it already was.
My negative feelings towards this book aside, this is a completely subjective review as I personally didn't vibe with it. So, take my opinion with a tiny grain of salt if you still think that this is a book you might enjoy because it could be. Just because I didn't enjoy it, doesn't mean you won't if your horror tastes align more with something like this.
If you are looking for something similar with a bit of a different angle, I would recommend Horrid by Katrina Leno if you want more horror, and the TV show Prodigal Son if you want more mystery.