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  • Writer's pictureClay Anderson

Review of Unspeakable Things by Jess Lourey

Unspeakable Things by Jess Lourey is a gripping and intense psychological thriller that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. Set in 1980s Minnesota, this novel masterfully blends elements of coming-of-age stories with dark suspense, creating a uniquely compelling narrative.


The story is told from the perspective of 12-year-old Cassie McDowell, whose seemingly idyllic small-town life takes a sinister turn when local boys start disappearing and returning changed. Lourey's decision to narrate through Cassie's eyes proves incredibly effective, allowing readers to experience the unfolding mystery through the lens of childhood innocence gradually giving way to harsh realities.


One of the novel's greatest strengths is its vivid depiction of 1980s nostalgia. References to popular culture of the era, such as the TV show "Solid Gold" and Rick Springfield, add authenticity and charm to the setting. This nostalgic backdrop serves to heighten the contrast with the dark events unfolding in the town of Lilydale.


Lourey's writing style is particularly praiseworthy. The prose is thoughtful, articulate, and surprisingly wise for such a young narrator, drawing readers deep into Cassie's world and thought processes. The author skillfully builds tension throughout the story, creating an atmosphere of creeping dread that keeps readers guessing until the very end.


While the subject matter is undeniably dark, dealing with themes of child abuse and community secrets, Lourey handles these sensitive topics with care and nuance. The book doesn't shy away from difficult truths but also doesn't sensationalize its more disturbing elements.


Unspeakable Things is also notable for its exploration of complex family dynamics and the loss of childhood innocence. Cassie's relationship with her parents, particularly her father, adds layers of complexity to the central mystery and contributes to the overall sense of unease permeating the novel.


For fans of psychological thrillers and coming-of-age stories alike, Unspeakable Things offers a unique and unforgettable reading experience. Jess Lourey has crafted a novel that is both a page-turning mystery and a poignant exploration of the darker side of small-town life. This book will linger in readers' minds long after they've turned the final page, a testament to its emotional impact and narrative power.

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