“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.”
This is one of those books where I saw the cover, read the blurb and knew I HAD to read it. Everything about Catherine Burns’s debut novel appealed to me. And who doesn’t like the odd dark read now and again…? Well me, actually. I like to read dark fiction ALL OF THE TIME. But maybe that’s just me! Before I mosey on with my review I would like to wish Catherine Burns and the team at Legend Press a very happy publication day. You can purchase a copy of The Visitors by clicking HERE.
We meet middle-aged Marion and John Zetland, brother and sister who live together in their family home. The best word to describe the siblings is probably ‘odd’, or ‘strange’. Maybe even ‘peculiar’ (maybe all three!). The reader is made immediately aware that there is something not quite ‘normal’ going on here. We see life from Marion’s perspective and if I’m honest, I really began to feel for her. She has no real friends, she is dominated by her older brother, painfully naive in her approach to life and the product of a formal and loveless upbringing.
I did grow to feel a strange fondness for Marion. I guess, most of all, I felt sorry for her. She really is quite pathetic. And as for John, well! He’s a controlling, domineering bully towards his sister and she just takes it. It’s all she knows. That’s how their relationship has been since the loss of their parents.
You discover early on who The Visitors are. Although it is not spelt out in big bold letters for the reader and it did take a little while for the penny to drop with me (doh!). I found parts of the story wonderfully shocking and really quite disturbing and I loved it! The way I felt about Marion changed as the story progressed. To say anymore may result in this review wandering into spoiler territory so I will just say that I found the ending very satisfying and leave it at that!
Would I recommend this book? I definitely would. I’ve seen a mix of reviews so far; some absolutely love it, others not so much. It’s going to appeal to readers who don’t shy away from the twisted, readers who want to spend time with characters who live on the darker side of life. As a small side note: I’ve seen this book listed on amazon as horror. In my opinion, The Visitors is not a horror novel. It’s a wonderfully dark and suspenseful read from a talented debut author and I am excited to see what Burns has to offer us in the future.
Four out of five stars.
I chose to read and review an ARC of The Visitors. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.
The Visitors by Catherine Burns was published in the UK by Legend Press on 3rd October 2017 and is available in hardcover and eBook formats (with the paperback to follow next year) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |
Born in Manchester, Catherine Burns is a graduate of Trinity College Cambridge. She worked as a bond trader in London before studying at the Moscow Institute of Film, and teaching film theory at Salford University. The Visitors is her debut novel.