The Resting Place | Review
Rating - ⭐⭐
"The medical term is prosopagnosia. The average person calls it face blindness—the inability to recognize a familiar person’s face, even the faces of those closest to you.
When Eleanor walked in on the scene of her capriciously cruel grandmother, Vivianne’s, murder, she came face to face with the killer—a maddening expression that means nothing to someone like her. With each passing day, her anxiety mounts. The dark feelings of having brushed by a killer, yet not know who could do this—or if they’d be back—overtakes both her dreams and her waking moments, thwarting her perception of reality.
Then a lawyer calls. Vivianne has left her a house—a looming estate tucked away in the Swedish woods. The place her grandfather died, suddenly. A place that has housed a dark past for over fifty years.
Eleanor. Her steadfast boyfriend, Sebastian. Her reckless aunt, Veronika. The lawyer. All will go to this house of secrets, looking for answers. But as they get closer to bringing the truth to light, they’ll wish they had never come to disturb what rests there."
The Resting Place is a standalone mystery thriller novel written by Camilla Sten and translated by Alexandra Fleming.
Did I read the synopsis, yes, but did I remember what this was about going into it, no. Will I also remember it after the fact, also a no? I was hoping that this would be good considering that I did enjoy The Lost Village, but this was an underwhelming mystery that ends up being completely forgettable.
I think what this came down to was that this was a good concept badly executed.
Let's get into the details.
There was a spelling mistake I caught, or not a spelling mistake but a word missing, pretty early on. This was translated well enough though.
Aside from that, there were formatting elements in this that I didn't particularly like. More often than not, when Eleanor is dealing with something she hears a voice in her head recounting someone's words. This is also done in italics which makes it worse for me, but I just didn't think that this was a good way to go about complexifying Eleanor's mental state.
Another writing element I didn't like was the two timelines. This story does alternate between two different periods, which was fine, but I had two issues with this that are interconnected. My issue is that there was too much overlap between the two timelines. Things that happened in the past in Anushka's perspective ended up being told again verbatim in the journal Eleanor found. So, you essentially end up reading the same thing twice.
This story did initially catch my interest because of the concept. We follow Eleanor who witnessed her grandmother being murdered and has to live with that trauma. On top of that, the killer was never found, partly due to the fact that Eleanor, the only witness, has prosopagnosia, commonly known as face blindness. After her grandmother's death, she is sent to Solhöga where she grew up in order to sort out her affairs. The house, however, holds more secrets than she could have ever expected.
First of all, the prosopagnosia could have made for a very interesting story, but not only was it just underutilized, but the story itself was very bland. It wasn't a very enthralling mystery, which is sad considering that this has a mysterious house in it, and even way past the halfway point the pace didn't pick up. It also just wasn't a unique enough story, even with the prosopagnosia, to stand out from other mysteries that have also told the same story and pulled the same twists as this had.
A big issue presented itself with the reveal of the mystery. I won't go into spoilers, of course, but a fatal flaw when it comes to mysteries is having the reveal completely blindside you. If you leave no breadcrumbs for the reader to piece together, that doesn't make a good twist, it makes it bad writing (in my book at least). Or maybe bad writing isn't the best phrase to use, as it is more of bad execution on the author's part when it came to the plot direction and climax.
On the flip side, the author also somehow managed to make the story unpredictable (due to the blindsiding) and completely predictable as well. The other half of the mystery, again without going into spoilers, I was able to piece together rather easily since it was kind of obvious what the outcome was going to be. Thus, we have a mystery that just wasn't executed very well. The reveals were just a one-two punch that made the quality of the story plummet.
Another big issue was that I didn't care for half of the story being told. As I have already stated we follow Eleanor, but we also follow a character named Anushka. I did delve a bit into this in the writing section, but her perspective ended up not adding much to the narrative. I don't see why we needed it when her story could have simply been told through the journal Eleanor found, and thus making no need for the additional perspective and time change.
We primarily follow two characters - Eleanor (in the present), and Anushka (in the past). Neither of whom I ended up caring for. I was worried at first because Eleanor is a naturally unreliable character due to her disposition, but I originally didn't mind that because it was interesting. I started to lose hope for her character though when she would constantly throw herself toward danger when she should have known better.
Anushka I was rooting for in the beginning, because she was stuck living a life that wasn't the greatest under the hands of her cruel cousin. The more we delved into her story, however, the less sympathetic I was toward her. Like Eleanor, she made some really questionable decisions in this and I wasn't here for it.
As for the rest of the cast, well, it wasn't a walk in the park with them either. Sebastian, Eleanor's boyfriend, had no empathy for her and her situation and has no idea how to deal with someone who has been through trauma. Eleanor's Aunt, Veronika, was no better either because she was more of the wicked stepmother type of figure.
This was a book that had an underwhelming mystery and poorly used concepts that could have been a great tool for a good mystery. A mysterious old house and a main character who has face blindness could have made for both an interesting and unique story, both the author fumbled with it.
The story remained pretty steady and then completely blindsided you in the end, which doesn't make for a good mystery thriller. Also, this is also categorized as a horror which it is most definitely not. If you think you are going to be reading about a haunted house, you aren't so don't be misled by that.