The Visitors – Catherine Burns

The visitors


Genre: Literary Fiction, Mystery
Publisher: Gallery Books

Marion Zetland lives with her domineering older brother, John in a decaying Georgian townhouse 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 shut out the shocking secret that John keeps in the cellar.

Until, suddenly, John has a heart attack and Marion is forced to go down to the cellar herself and face the gruesome truth that her brother has kept hidden.

As questions are asked and secrets unravel, maybe John isn’t the only one with a dark side.

The synopsis of this novel is very misleading, so if you’re expecting a thriller with crazy twists and turns, you’ll be thoroughly disappointed. Instead you’ll find a slow burning novel with a little sizzle at the end encapsulated in an unsettling atmosphere and an unnerving family dynamic.

The Visitors follows Marion, a woman in her fifties living with her brother who has never experienced much the world has to offer. The novel gives an in-depth look at Marion’s childhood, which gives the reader insight into Marion’s behavior. Marion had many difficulties in school, so she was often pushed aside for her more intellect driven brother, John. These scenes could have easily dragged the novel down in terms of pacing, however their subtlety creates an unsettling atmosphere. There’s something not quite right about the way John is treated by their father or their mother’s indifference. These scenes could have easily become tedious and annoying, but Burns threaded the narrow line of keeping the reader interested while sowing seemingly mundane information into the story.

The pace of this novel is very slow. As mentioned previously, the reader is given an in-depth look at Marion’s childhood, so the synopsis of the novel doesn’t happen until 3/4 of the way through the book. So, if you’ve found yourself 100 pages into the novel and are not enjoying it, you might as well DNF the book since there’s no big finish or crazy twist at the end. At a certain point during the novel the reader will be able to clearly piece together what’s currently happening and what will happen. This isn’t a negative criticism; it’s just the way the story is told. Like I said, it’s a slow burn with a little sizzle at the end.

Overall, The Visitors was a nice change of pace novel. Burns sows together an interesting family dynamic that leaves the children slightly disturbed in their own ways.

**I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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