Title: I Invited her In
Editors: Adele Parks
Genre: Domestic Psychological Thriller
Date of Publication: September 20, 2018
I invited her in… and she took everything…
Melanie hasn’t heard from her college best friend, Abigail, in over twenty years. But when Abigail calls her up to ask for a place to stay as she divorces her cheating husband, Melanie is thrilled. She invites her in with open arms, which–as you can probably tell from the book’s title and its assigned genre of “domestic suspense”–isn’t a good thing…
I was surprised by how slow this book started. I’m used to psychological and domestic suspenses starting with a bang – in the form of a prologue or a little taste of what’s to come – and then go through the monotony of introducing the main character and her humdrum life, easing the reader into the plotline, etc. While the “suspense” element wasn’t immediately apparent (and by “immediate”, I mean not even within the first 100 pages), the writing was compelling. I found that I was curious to uncover what would happen next. However, the book is very slowly paced and character driven. Not a lot of anything happens in the first half of the book.
As I said before, there aren’t a lot of thrills in the first half of the book, and you have to really want to find the “thriller” aspect to even feel the slightest bit of suspense. Some chapters are from Abigail’s point of view, and she doesn’t come across as ominous or unhinged, especially in the first few chapters with her POV. It might have added more suspense to not know what she was thinking. Especially since it can be difficult to write someone’s point of view without revealing their motives or what their plans are. That said, the end of her chapters tended to have a single line that made me itch for more. A single line that could be interpreted as innocuous or foreboding. I chose the latter, because that made it a more interesting read.
There are a few plot twists, but they’re all quite obvious from the very beginning. I won’t spoil them here, but if you are reading the book carefully enough, the twists aren’t even twists at all, but more like a natural progression of the plot.
I found the story line somewhat infuriating. While Melanie is quite a normal person, I couldn’t relate to how she dealt with some of the things going on, especially later on in the book. The plot grew more and more exasperating, which was partly because the twists were obvious, but also because of how slow paced the story was in addition to how nonsensical some of the characters were behaving. And it wasn’t infuriating in that fun “Oh, gosh, why can’t they see what’s been in front of them all along!?” kind of way, more in the “Dammit, why are you so stupid!?” kind of way.
This novel is very character driven. There are a lot of flashbacks intended to flesh out Melanie and Abigail’s relationship back in college. At some points it seems a little much – like Parks valued character development in a backwards way more than a forwards way. I appreciated when the plot finally started moving forward, and we could observe how the characters are now. We could see who Melanie has become, and how she reacts to having her old friend back in her life. She hasn’t made many friends in the twenty years since they grew estranged, and it’s quite fascinating to see how she latches onto her old friend, becoming somewhat enamoured with her and obsessed with gaining her approval. The strain Melanie’s obsession takes on her marriage is (in my opinion) one of the highlights of this book.
There aren’t a lot of side characters, aside from her husband, son, and her son’s girlfriend. We get occasional POV scenes with each of them, which helps to flesh out their perceptions of what’s going on. I particularly enjoyed Ben’s scenes the most, because he saw that there was something off about Abigail very early on, and his intuition was like a breath of fresh air.
I recommend this book to those looking for a character-driven, slow-paced domestic suspense. If you’re expecting boiled rabbits (a la Fatal Attraction) or tightly-wrought tension (like in B.A. Paris or Gillian Flynn thrillers), then you’re in the wrong place.
*Thank you to Harlequin for the book to review!*
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