The House in the Pines by Ana Reyes

When Maya stumbles across a YouTube video of a woman dying under mysterious circumstances, she is reminded of her best friend’s death from years ago. The eerie similarity of both incidents sets Maya on an alarming path, where it soon becomes difficult to distinguish reality from nightmare.

Read if you like: puzzling mystery novels, ambiguous endings, non-linear storytelling, an unreliable narrator, protagonist battling drug addiction

It’s been a few days since I finished reading The House in the Pines, I’ve given it some thought, and I’m still not sure what it is that I’ve read.

The conclusion to the mystery came out of nowhere (and not even convincingly so). There are questions left unanswered. Some of the explanations… you can’t help but poke holes in.

I did not like how the whole thing has been executed.

Maya suffers from substance abuse and its withdrawal symptoms. She also has insomnia (that’s two books in a row I’ve read on this topic!). Her state of mind reflects just how troubled she is and how these conditions are affecting her daily life.

There was nothing about her characterisation that stood out to me. I don’t think you’ll consider Maya a likeable character either.

Copyright © 2023 Meera Nair

She isn’t the first protagonist you’ll read about who has had a toxic relationship, was jealous of her best friend, and indulges in drug abuse.

But the crux of the novel, being that two people have somehow dropped dead after speaking to the same person, is what held my attention. I wanted to see where the author would go with this plot point. Would there be some fantasy elements? Something to do with a cult?

I have mixed feelings about the conclusion. If only it had been fleshed out better or explained persuasively, it might have worked.

All the flashback scenes that show us Maya and Frank’s relationship had me cringing. If she’d had someone in her life who could guide her to make healthier choices, she might have recognised when everything started to go wrong.

Plus, the clash between her and her best friend, Aubrey, over Frank? WHY?

One aspect of the novel that I liked is how Maya’s father’s book runs parallel to the main plot. In fact, that was much more engaging to read about.

On the whole, don’t go by the book cover or the synopsis. They promise more than the book actually delivers. I wouldn’t call this a thriller at all.

If you haven’t yet picked up The House in the Pines, you aren’t missing out on much. Instead, consider reading Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney or The Thirteenth Tale by Diana Setterfield. They are both atmospheric and offer different kinds of mystery vibes.

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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