In brief: Lowen is asked by the husband of bestselling author, Verity Crawford, to complete her bestselling series after an accident. But when Lowen finds Verity’s secret autobiography, things change drastically. Who is telling the truth?
The good: Nail biting thriller with a Gothic hint.
The not-so-good: A few late nights involved…
Why I chose it: Sounded a kind an intriguing read – thanks Hachette for the copy.
Year: 2022 (originally published 2018)
Publisher: Little, Brown (Hachette)
Setting: New York and Vermont, USA
Rating: 9.5 out of 10
I have a couple of Colleen Hoover novels on my shelves, but I haven’t got to them yet. However, it seems that I am susceptible to TikTok book hype because Verity really piqued my interest. A mystery with Gothic undertones? Sign me up. But on reading Verity, it’s so much more complex with an ending that really makes you wonder – who is telling the truth?
Verity is told in the first person, not by Verity, but Lowen. Lowen is an author, but not an overly popular one. She’s broke, her mother just died and on the way to a mysterious meeting with a big publisher, a man is run over in front of her. A kindly stranger helps her out, who happens to be going to the same meeting. He’s Jeremy Crawford, husband to bestselling author Verity Crawford. He has a proposal for Lowen – complete Verity’s best-selling series after she’s been in an accident. Lowen accepts and soon finds herself at their large Vermont estate, which is creepy inside and out due to several tragedies that have occurred in the family. Lowen is there to find information for the rest of the novels, but she finds an autobiography written by Verity which she becomes fixated by. Add to it the creepy, empty stare Verity has and the feeling that Verity is not quite telling everyone the whole truth about her injuries. Their son Crew tells Lowen odd things, which adds to her feelings of anxiety just as she develops feelings for Jeremy. Should Jeremy learn the whole truth of who Verity really is?
The story starts with a blunt shock on a Manhattan street but the shocks following are more subtle (but no less jaw dropping). While easy to read, Hoover develops a real sense of unease as the reader learns about Verity through her own words. Lowen is almost a vessel who the story is told through – she has her own issues, but they don’t form major plot points. She’s there to tell the story of Verity, Jeremy and their family. As the story continues, coincidences become less likely and the tension grows until the reader is wondering madly themselves who to trust. Is Lowen an unreliable narrator? What is Verity really up to? Is Jeremy not what he seems? As the stakes grow, it gets even more creepy and unsettling. (I’m glad I read this book in summer). As for the twist, it raises the stakes even more as the reader tries to unravel the truth and what to accept. It’s definitely a novel that will keep you thinking way past the last page. I was reminded of the movie The Others while reading this. Big house, weird things and just as unsettling. It’s dark, but not completely.
I’m looking forward to reading happier novels by Colleen Hoover in the future, but if she writes another novel that messes with the truth I’m all for it.