Last year, after the mind-bending success of the book and then the movie adaptation of Gone Girl, author Gillian Flynn released a novella, something of a ghost story, called The Grown-Up.
If you're familiar with Flynn's other books, you know that she loves lead female characters who are smart, strong, and independent but not necessarily all that likable. The lead in this story is no different.
Semi-retired from her position giving hand jobs in the back of the fortune teller shop and recently promoted to reading auras out front, Nerdy's life is turned upside-down when a new, wealthy client walks in needing help with her haunted house. Smelling easy money and lucrative referrals, she agrees to come to the house to check out. [Obviously, "Nerdy" isn't the character's name, but it's what her fortune teller boss calls her because she wears glasses and reads books on her breaks.]
A trip to the house, the lone creepy Victorian in an upscale neighborhood with new housed, allows Nerdy to see what she's up against, and to meet her client's two sons, seven-year-old Jack, who stays in his room behind a locked door, and her stepson, fifteen-year-old Miles, whose actions have gone from angry and disobedient to surly and potentially dangerous.
As Nerdy tries to figure out what is really going on, she is faced with an increasing sense of unease. The mysteries just get more puzzling and possibly lethal.
While this novella is far from Flynn's best work, it is a short piece and is as well-written as any of her full-length novels. It's a fun read, especially if you're like me and not a big fan of true horror. However, it does have an ambiguous ending, which I know not everyone appreciates, but die-hard fans of Gillian Flynn will probably find this enjoyable. For me, I do like her writing. In fact, I recently started reading the one novel of hers I hadn't yet read, Sharp Objects. She has a way of pulling you in to the story early and keeping hold of you to the end. I definitely recommend her writing, but this one I recommend only with caveats. If you haven't read her yet, I'd start with Gone Girl and go from there. So far, I think it's her best.