Unspeakable Things by Jess Lourey is a crime/mystery story influenced by actual events. Lourey writes about secrets. She is the bestselling Agatha, Anthony, and Lefty-nominated author of the critically-acclaimed Mira James mysteries, which have earned multiple starred reviews from Library Journal and Booklist, the latter calling her writing “a splendid mix of humor and suspense.”
There are several likable things in this novel, like the 1980s setting and pop culture references. Secondly, Cassandra, the narrator and central character in the story, is very likable. Not quite thirteen, there is still quite a bit of innocence in her interpretation of events, even though she is an adult when telling the story. It gave me the same feeling as the narration in the movie “Silver Bullet.” The inserts of “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” throughout the book also brought back memories. There is a good deal of nostalgia in the story.
Other parts of the book are too obvious or unexplained. The parent’s parties are pretty obvious, even though it is not explained until later in the book. Other things like the number of stairs the father climbs add an extra layer of creepiness to the story. Although the implication it’s not difficult. Other repeated events like the clipping of nails is a weird aspect of the story and not explained at all.
There is a level of creepiness that runs throughout the book. It doesn’t build or subside as the story progresses but remains constant. The mother is a teacher that seems like an old hippie with healthy food, home remedies, and openness on some issues. The father is a creep and a drunk but is often left in charge of both daughters. The sheriff and some of the other townsfolk are just as bad.
Creepiness aside, this felt much more like a young adult novel than the promoted Adult Fiction tag. Parts were too simplistic for an adult reader, and other elements that might be accepted by younger readers are questionable to adults. The prologue would have the reader believe the narrator is an adult. Still, the telling of the story is undoubtedly that of a young teenager without any adult clarifications or added hindsight information. The writing well done as it draws the reader into the story, and Cassandra is very likable. The story has some twists, and although it is not predictable, there are plenty of unanswered questions that could have added to the account or created a bit of complexity.