Title: The Return
Author: Rachel Harrison
First published March 24, 2020
368 pages, Hardcover
ISBN: 9781529351958 (ISBN10: 1529351952)
Dear Opportunist, You thought you could take her away from me, but you lost. And now that she’s mine, I will do anything to keep her.
Do you have any doubts? Everything that should be yours is now mine.
If you’re wondering, you don’t even cross her mind anymore. I won’t let her go…
not ever. Dangerous Redhead Leah Smith finally has everything she ever wanted.
Well, not quite everything. Her marriage felt more like a debt than a lifelong commitment.
And the image she worked so hard to create was falling apart right before her eyes. With a new role and a past full of secrets, Leah must decide how far she’s willing to go to protect what she’s stolen.
Rachel Harrisons debut novel The Return is a thrilling addition to the horror genre, exploring themes of friendship, loss, and mental health. Published on March 24, 2020, Harrisons book is a must-read for fans of character-driven horror.
The novel follows a group of four college friends who reunite after one of them, Julie, goes missing for two years. She mysteriously reappears on the side of the road, the only memory she has of her disappearance being a white room.
But Julie is different now, and her friends notice it. As strange events occur, their bond is tested, and they must confront their past and the secrets theyve been keeping from each other.
Harrisons writing is immersive, drawing the reader into the eerie atmosphere of the story. Her description of the setting, an isolated hotel in upstate New York, creates a sense of claustrophobia and unease.
The horror elements are subtle and psychological, adding to the tension of the story. The novels main strength is its character development.
The four friends, Elise, Molly, Chet, and Julie, are complex and fleshed out, each with their own backstory and personality. Their dynamics and relationships are realistic, making it easy for the reader to become invested in their plight.
The exploration of mental health and trauma is handled sensitively, with an empathetic portrayal of characters struggling with their own demons. However, the pacing of the novel could be improved.
The first half of the book is filled with conversations and flashbacks, slowing down the plot. The horror elements dont kick in until later, making it a bit of a slow burn.
But once the horror aspect is introduced, the tension ramps up, creating a truly chilling experience. The Return can be compared to other horror novels such as Paul Tremblays A Head Full of Ghosts and Jennifer McMahons The Winter People.
Harrisons writing style is reminiscent of Tremblays subtle but effective horror and McMahons exploration of familial relationships. Overall, The Return is an impressive debut novel from Rachel Harrison.
Its a beautifully written, character-driven horror story with a unique twist. Although it could benefit from faster pacing, the strong characterization and psychological terror make it a must-read for horror fans.
Rating: 4/5 stars. Recommended for: Fans of horror, psychological thrillers, and character-driven stories.
Those interested in exploring themes of friendship, loss, and mental health will also enjoy The Return.