The Overnight Guest by Heather Gudenkauf

Wylie Lark is a true-crime writer. So what if her writing retreat comes at the cost of being isolated in a farmhouse with a grisly history of murder, and there’s a snowstorm that has sealed her in? It’s nothing she can’t handle.

But that’s until a little child is found nearly frozen at her doorstep, and Wylie’s questions begin to unravel secrets that strike a little too close to home.

I finished this book in two sittings. Would’ve probably finished it in one if it weren’t for adult responsibilities.

I’m new to Heather Gudenkauf’s writing. And to think that I wouldn’t have even heard of this book if not for a Storytel recommendation! Imagine that. Never knowing something this brilliant existed!

Copyright © 2022 Meera Nair

The Overnight Guest has all of that which I love in a good thriller – an isolated house, a protagonist with a mysterious past, non-linear style storytelling, and the “trapped in a cabin” trope. But this is not everything that works for the book.

The author’s writing style is evocative enough to make you feel what the characters are going through – be it the burning chill of a blizzard or the fear of being hunted down by a serial killer.

In simple terms, it is unputdownable. Heather Gudenkauf has written a novel that despite its use of trite elements works splendidly to draw you in and keep you engrossed throughout.

I’m not going to talk about the different storylines as it may spoil your reading experience. But know that this novel follows three storylines parallelly – one of Wylie in the present as she is secluded in the cabin, one of an anonymous set of characters, and another of a crime that occurred long ago.

The masterstroke that Gudenkauf pulls is brilliantly tying these storylines together by the end. I kept trying to form connections but wasn’t as successful.

The Overnight Guest is thrilling and tense in equal measure. It is well-paced, so plot developments were introduced at regular intervals. Because there are a couple of stories to keep track of, you might think that it is overwhelming. It’s actually not.

That said, it does deal with some sensitive topics. Trigger warnings needed are for kidnapping, miscarriage, violence, childhood trauma, and rape.

There are enough red herrings thrown in for good measure, so you can’t help but view several of the characters in a suspicious light.

When the 2nd last suspect entered the picture, I sort of guessed who might be the culprit. But there were a lot more plausible scenarios that could’ve played out to resolve the mystery, which would’ve been far more believable. I wasn’t as persuaded by who the killer turned out to be.

Apart from that slight element, I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Overnight Guest. I’d highly recommend it to everyone who is looking for a medium-paced, mystery-thriller that is executed superbly.

Published by Meera Nair

A 27 year-old freelance Content Writer, who spends all her free time ensconced in the pages of a book or writing to her heart's content about topics that excite the creative spirit in her.

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