by Catherine Burns
My rating: 4 stars
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press (September 26, 2017)
Publication Date: September 26, 2017
Genre: Literary Fiction
Print Length: 304 pages
With the smart suspense of Emma Donoghue’s Room and the atmospheric claustrophobia of Grey Gardens, Catherine Burns’s debut novel explores the complex truths we are able to keep hidden from ourselves and the twisted realities that can lurk beneath even the most serene of surfaces.
Marion Zetland lives with her domineering older brother John in a crumbling mansion on the edge of a northern seaside resort. A timid spinster in her fifties who still sleeps with teddy bears, Marion does her best to live by John’s rules, even if it means turning a blind eye to the noises she hears coming from behind the cellar door...and turning a blind eye to the women’s laundry in the hamper that isn’t hers. For years, she’s buried the signs of John’s devastating secret into the deep recesses of her mind—until the day John is crippled by a heart attack, and Marion becomes the only one whose shoulders are fit to bear his secret. Forced to go down to the cellar and face what her brother has kept hidden, Marion discovers more about herself than she ever thought possible. As the truth is slowly unraveled, we finally begin to understand: maybe John isn’t the only one with a dark side....
The Visitors by Catherine Burns
She grew up in a wealthy, but cold and dysfunctional family. That was just the beginning of a sad, lonely and socially inept life that tormented and twisted a middle-aged woman into the culmination of every monster that had ever terrified her. Catherine Burns’ THE VISITORS is a raw and brutally dark tale of the horrors of one woman’s life as she lives in self-denial of the horrendous secrets her domineering older brother kept in the cellar.
It is a tale of self-deception, of denial and of finally facing the truth about the life she has lived. It is a tale of always being treated as less until finally, Marion believes it is true. Marion knows she is unworthy of love, of happiness, and with only her brother John to share her life with, she accepts the emotional cruelty he provides, because, after all, he doesn’t mean it, right?
It will all change when John must be hospitalized and Marion must enter the forbidden cellar and face the truths she has always denied. From that day forward, a new Marion will be born, a new Marion will grow and in that growth, Marion will not be a doormat anymore.
Catherine Burns tells a story that will sear your soul, because there is no hero, there is no heroine, there is no joy, but there is an ending you will not see coming. This story simmers across each page, like the smoldering remains of a fire that never grew bright.
I received an ARC edition from Gallery/Scout Press in exchange for my honest review.