Fiction, thriller

Book Review: The House In The Pines by Ana Reyes

A viral video where a woman is seated across a man at a diner when she suddenly stares into space and drops dead makes its way all over the internet. Maya is one of the many people who views this video but she is triggered as she has seen this happen before. When she was a high school senior preparing to go off to college, she watched her best friend, Aubrey die in the exact same way. That’s not the only similarity, they both died in the presence of the same man, Frank.

Now years later, Maya is in a serious relationship while going through withdrawals from an addiction to Klonopin, a drug she has been on since Aubrey’s death. She is drinking way more alcohol than usual to deal with it, isn’t sleeping well and has lost a ton of weight. After an embarrassing dinner with her boyfriend’s family where she was drunk, she decides to go back to her hometown and find a way to prove that Frank is responsible for both murders.

I don’t think I have ever read a book recommended by Reese’s book club but I was determined to have a better reading life this year and was open to suggestions so when I came across this on IG I was like sure, why not? and I don’t know if it was a good or bad decision. The book started out captivating and I was intrigued and very eager to find out how or if Frank was connected to both deaths. I think Reyes did a good job of mapping out the past and we get a good sense of Aubrey and Maya’s friendship. But then, when the reveal happens, I was like huh?? I almost didn’t believe it. Dare I say, I felt insulted? It was just waaay too far fetched for me.

Maya has Guatamelan heritage and at some point we see her visit and meet her father’s family (her father died when he was young). Her father was a writer who had an unfinished book that was in her possession. Reyes writes this plot point into the story as if it would come in handy at some point and it does interweave during the reveal but it didn’t seem to add to the reveal at all, so I kept wondering why we were dragged into it in the first place.

There is a lot going on in this book and you can tell that it is a debut effort. I don’t know if I’d recommend this book because I don’t think the payoff was satisfying. I gave it 3 stars because it really did have my attention the first half of the book before it started falling apart.


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