Review of Hemlock Island by Kelley Armstrong @KelleyArmstrong @StMartins @NetGalley

I have joined Kelley on many terrific adventures (book-wise) but never horror. Hemlock Island: Phew! 😨

Blurb: Laney Kilpatrick has been renting her vacation home to strangers. The invasion of privacy gives her panic attacks, but it’s the only way she can keep her beloved Hemlock Island, the only thing she owns after a pandemic-fueled divorce. But broken belongings and campfires that nearly burn down the house have escalated to bloody bones, hex circles, and now, terrified renters who’ve fled after finding blood and nail marks all over the guest room closet, as though someone tried to claw their way out…and failed.

When Laney shows up to investigate with her teenaged niece in tow, she discovers that her ex, Kit, has also been informed and is there with Jayla, his sister and her former best friend. Then Sadie, another old high school friend, charters over with her brother, who’s now a cop.

There are tensions and secrets, whispers in the woods, and before long, the discovery of a hand poking up from the earth. Then the body that goes with it… But by that time, someone has taken off with their one and only means off the island, and they’re trapped with someone―or something―that doesn’t want them leaving the island alive.

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Kelley Armstrong pulls no punches in Hemlock Island, an engrossing horror, that seems like an amalgamation And Then There Were None and every single scary book that had you hiding under the blankets. Laney owns a house and island in Lake Superior, which you can only get to by boat. She loves her writing hideaway, but after her divorce the only way that she can afford to keep it is to rent to vacationers. Unfortunately the renters don’t treat the place like their own homes (at least let’s hope not) and they use her locked up possessions, burn property, vandalize the island, and kill animals. They seem to be a necessary evil or at least part of one because it seems that someone is displaying ritualistic objects in and around her house. The last renters were so frightened that they fled before spending a night.

In response, Laney and her niece decide to go the island to check it out. She informs her ex-husband, Kit, who decides to join her with his sister and Laney’s once best friend, Jayla. Then their group grows by two when Laney’s estranged friend, Sadie, decides to go along with her brother who is a policeman. Not long after the group arrives strange things begin to happen. And then one of them disappears.

Evil property investors? Satan worship? Zombies? All of these things floated around as I read. Kelley Armstrong does a great job of keeping the reader guessing on that front, but also with regards to the personal drama among the cast of characters. What is it that Sadie wants from Laney? What really happened in their past? All of these questions keep you reading for the answers.

I sailed through Hemlock Island pretty much oblivious to everything around me. When it came to the great reveal, I knew to expect the unexpected and was not disappointed with any of it.

Many thanks to St. Martin’s and Netgalley for a copy.

2 thoughts on “Review of Hemlock Island by Kelley Armstrong @KelleyArmstrong @StMartins @NetGalley

  1. Thank you for reviewing this. I am familiar (a little) with the author’s work and think I might like her horror entry, too. I don’t read much horror fiction (or nonfiction), but knowing the horror story is well-written is a draw.

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