Sunday, May 1, 2022

Review: The Overnight Guest by Heather Gudenkauf

by Heather Gudenkauf
Release Date: January 25, 2022
2022 Park Row
Kindle Edition; 352 Pages
ISBN: 978-0778311935
Audiobook: B093FC4J1J
Genre: Fiction / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

3 Stars

True crime writer Wylie Lark doesn’t mind being snowed in at the isolated farmhouse where she’s retreated to write her new book. A cozy fire, complete silence. It would be perfect, if not for the fact that decades earlier, at this very house, two people were murdered in cold blood and a girl disappeared without a trace.

As the storm worsens, Wylie finds herself trapped inside the house, haunted by the secrets contained within its walls—haunted by secrets of her own. Then she discovers a small child in the snow just outside. After bringing the child inside for warmth and safety, she begins to search for answers. But soon it becomes clear that the farmhouse isn’t as isolated as she thought, and someone is willing to do anything to find them.
My Thoughts
The Overnight Guest had an interesting premise and I would have liked it a lot better if the dual timeline didn't give away so much information and lower the overall suspense and mystery of the story. It was quite easy to figure out Wylie's connection to the town as well as figure out who actually did it and I pretty much continued reading as I enjoyed the setting and the atmosphere of the story.  Who doesn't like it when your heroine is trapped in a cabin during a snowstorm with no power and few options? 
Wylie was an interesting character and I still wish the entire book had been focused on her, her reasons for returning to the town, her research into the book, and let it slowly unfold that way as I think it would have been far more suspenseful.  There was a lot of untapped potential in this character. Because of the way she handled herself in certain situations, it showed that she was smart, capable, and able to think her way through a problem which makes her likeable right there. It bothers me when people make stupid decisions just to advance a plot because the author just can't think of an alternative way to write about a situation.  
Unfortunately, the dual timeline gave away too much information for me and while I did enjoy it, it became pretty formulaic and predictable. If the story had simply been about Wylie, that would have been so much more suspenseful as the reader would have had no idea what was happening which would have upped the level of suspense.  Like I mentioned, it was interesting, but in no way suspenseful or shocking, and because this novel is meant to be a mystery, not a literary novel, I would have liked a bit more suspense.  
The Overnight Guest had a lot of potential, but I think the author missed the mark by using a dual timeline which gave away far too much information and destroyed any sense of suspense for me.  While this author does have a way of drawing you into the story and making you care about the characters, focusing on Wylie would have kept the eeriness of the setting and upped the level of suspense.  While this one was a bit too predictable and formulaic for me, I will recommend it, and I will definitely continue to read this author in the future. 



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