➽ I was provided with an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The following opinions are my own.
Wylie Lark, a true crime writer, travels to Burden, Iowa to stay in the home that was the scene of the gruesome crime her newest novel chronicles. While she’s there to finish her book she is also battling her own demons and running away from hardships at home. Everything is turned on its head when she discovers a little boy frozen in her yard during a dangerous winter storm. Once she discovers the child is alive she must find out where he came from- what she learns next will hit closer to home than she ever expected.
This is the second book I’ve read by Heather Gudenkauf. I really enjoyed her last book, This Is How I Lied (find my review for that title here), which is one of the reasons I decided to pick up her newest book as well. The Overnight Guest follows three different timelines: One being from August of 2000 when the original crime occurs, one being present day, and one unknown. These seemingly unrelated timelines slowly begin to merge as the story progresses and even though I did correctly guess most of the twists it was the execution that made this a great book. Gudenkauf expertly reveals important pieces of the puzzle at the perfect moments to keep the reader on the edge of their seat.
Towards the end when most of the story is told in present tense the tension was ramped up to double speed and I couldn’t wait to see where the story was going to go. This is also the first thriller to ever make me cry real tears. I was invested in the story of Josie and Becky and the gruesome crime surrounding them. It was truly heartbreaking. The atmosphere in this story was palpable- I could practically feel the August heat and humidity along with the remoteness of being so isolated far from other people. The same went for the deadly snow and ice storm that took place in the present timeline- the darkness, the cold, the fear- it all culminated to make for a very tense reading experience.
There were a couple of things that held me back from giving this five stars. There was a plot hole that really bothered me. Even though it was a relatively small thing it did change the trajectory of the story and it irked me. I would like to add that I read an advanced reader copy and this plot hole may have been caught and corrected in the finished copy. The second thing was a scene at the end that went a little too far for believability. Nothing that couldn’t happen just an unlikely turn of events. There was also a misjudged character who was treated very poorly but after this person was found to be innocent that turn of events was glossed over and I expected there to be some kind of closure in that regard. All of these things are tiny criticisms and don’t even hold up against the overwhelmingly positive things this book did, though.
The Overnight Guest is definitely one of the finest thrillers I’ve read recently. I haven’t had much success in the genre lately and I’m tending to find that nothing really shocks or surprises me anymore so when one does it really stands out from the crowd. If you’re looking for a good thriller that has the creep-factor going for it and a solid emotional punch then look no further. I totally stand behind this book.
About the Author
Heather Gudenkauf is the critically acclaimed author of several novels, including the New York Times bestseller The Weight of Silence. She lives in Iowa with her husband and children.
Find Heather on Social Media: