In the follow-up to his critically acclaimed debut, Kill Creek, author Scott Thomas brings us a much more deliberate and slow-building terror in Violet. Kris Barlow, in an attempt to escape from the platitudes of friends, family, and strangers after a car accident claims the life of her husband, takes her daughter to a house on Lost Lake that has been owned by her family for decades, and that she hasn’t visited since she was about her daughter’s age.
Unfortunately, the best of intentions rarely go as you’d expect and the same happens here. Kris has forgotten that the reason why she hasn’t visited the house is because of things that happened to her family so many years prior. While she hasn’t thought about them in decades, those “things” never left the lake house. They’ve been lying in wait for Kris. And now they’re about to make themselves known again.
Thomas is pretty adept at building a very creepy setting that will have your skin crawling and the little tiny hairs on the back of your neck standing at attention within the first handful of pages. He’s incredibly descriptive and I felt like I was right there with Kris and Sadie as they experienced their small triumphs over grief all the while building up to the ultimate terror that was so long ago forgotten.
The story is a slow burner, quietly unfolding and revealing one new detail after another without giving you too much all at once and thus overwhelming you. And you look forward to what’s to come.
What I really love, though, is how much the author cares about his two core characters. They are both well developed and very relatable, while not always being particularly likable because of their own faults. He has made them very real and that makes their plight that much easier to envision happening to you.
My only issue is I feel like maybe the ending was a little underwhelming. While you might have been expecting a bit more of a fright, what you got, while still good, was not necessarily as horrifying as you had been building up to mentally. Or maybe I’ve just watched too many jump-scare videos.
A fun little game I played while reading this book was to reconstruct the mix tape that Kris’ mother listened to throughout their family stays at the lake house. This mix tape plays a pretty important role in the narrative and I was actually taking notes about the songs and artists and the order in which they played on the tape. I was having a blast, until I found out that another fan had already posted the playlist to Spotify. D’oh!
From the publisher:
For many children, the summer of 1988 was filled with sunshine and laughter. But for ten-year-old Kris Barlow, it was her chance to say goodbye to her dying mother.
Three decades later, loss returns”•her husband killed in a car accident. And so, Kris goes home to the place where she first knew pain”•to that summer house overlooking the crystal waters of Lost Lake. It’s there that Kris and her eight-year-old daughter will make a stand against grief.
But a shadow has fallen over the quiet lake town of Pacington, Kansas. Beneath its surface, an evil has grown”•and inside that home where Kris Barlow last saw her mother, an old friend awaits her return.