After Dahlia Lighthouse’s father passes away, she returns to her family’s isolated island mansion for his burial. She hasn’t been there for many years and still struggles with the memories of her bizarre childhood.
Weighing heaviest on her heart is the disappearance of her beloved twin brother, Andy, when they were 16-years old. It’s assumed he ran away, but hasn’t been seen, or heard from, since. Every moment on the island is a painful reminder of that loss.
Reuniting with her older siblings, Tate and Charlie, as well as with her Mom, feels surreal. She can barely interact with them at all. It’s so awkward.
As the narrative plods along, the truly odd nature of Dahlia and her sibling’s upbringing comes to light. Her parents were unnaturally obsessed with murderers and their victims, even going so far as to include murder history within the curriculum of their home schooling.
The serial killer who hunted on their very island, dubbed the Blackburn Killer, was of particular interest to them; performing peculiar memorial ceremonies to commemorate the victims on their birth and death days. It’s no wonder Dahlia was hesitate to return to all of that.
On the day they are set to bury her Dad in the family plot, they discover another body already in the ground. It appears to be Andy, dead due to blunt force trauma to the head. The suspected murder weapon, Andy’s own axe, is found in the grave with him.
If Andy didn’t run away, what happened to him? Could he be yet another victim of the Blackburn Killer, even though he doesn’t fit with the other victim profiles?
Dahlia needs to get to the bottom of the mystery, even if it unearths a lot of other messy family secrets along the way.
I’m not sure why this didn’t really work for me. It has a lot of elements that I tend to enjoy, such as an isolated location, small town secrets, family drama, murder and adult characters returning to their hometown after an extended absence. However, I can’t say there was ever a moment while reading that I was actually enjoying it.
I’m sorry if that seems harsh, but it’s true. I can see glimmers of a good story underneath, I know some Readers will enjoy it, but for me, it was too much. It felt like the author took everything dark and murderous she could think of, threw it at the page, and hoped something would stick.
I didn’t find it mysterious, or ominous. The atmosphere wasn’t distinct enough. The reveals weren’t surprising. They actually seemed rather obvious. I just didn’t care and couldn’t believe half of the decisions, choices and actions of any of the characters.
It did read extremely quickly, so that’s a thing. I think overall, perhaps this author’s writing style isn’t for me. This is my first book by Collins and I can’t say I’m overly pumped to try anything else.
Thank you to the publisher, Atria Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. Although this didn’t work for me, I appreciate the opportunity to provide my opinion and I’m sure a lot of Readers will have fun with this story.