TITLE : Unspeakable Things

AUTHOR : Jess Lourey

GENRE : Adult/Thriller/Mystery/Suspense

FBRC RATING : 2 stars


Inspired by a terrifying true story from the author’s hometown, a heart-pounding novel of suspense about a small Minnesota community where nothing is as quiet—or as safe—as it seems.

Cassie McDowell’s life in 1980s Minnesota seems perfectly wholesome. She lives on a farm, loves school, and has a crush on the nicest boy in class. Yes, there are her parents’ strange parties and their parade of deviant guests, but she’s grown accustomed to them.

All that changes when someone comes hunting in Lilydale.

One by one, local boys go missing. One by one, they return changed—violent, moody, and withdrawn. What happened to them becomes the stuff of shocking rumors. The accusations of who’s responsible grow just as wild, and dangerous town secrets start to surface. Then Cassie’s own sister undergoes the dark change. If she is to survive, Cassie must find her way in an adult world where every sin is justified, and only the truth is unforgivable. 


DISCLAIMER : I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer for providing me with an ARC of this book.

The story is inspired by true events that happened in the hometown of our author. She takes these events and the scary feelings she experienced as a young kid and gave voice to it through Cassandra/Cassie. Cassie is young, has a troubled home life. She has a lot of problems with the life they lead and the experiences they had as a family is not what she wants to experience again. The events are uncomfortable and dark. She doesn’t want to continue her life like that, she wishes she could talk about it to someone but is unable to find someone who is trustworthy. The kidnappings, sexual abuse and rapes happening to the boys in her school put worry into the hometown and the people. 

The story is dark and creepy and deals with a lot of heavy topics that can trigger a lot of people. There are trigger warnings for rape, incest, sexual abuse, molesting, etc. The story and the plot was interesting. I think the execution of it could have been better. The characters were creepy and dark. The problem I found in the story was the number of events that were used to create the mystery and suspense but lacked any explanation as to why it happened. Some things were not explained and the story kind of ended quickly with no resolution to some of the serious issues taking place in the background. 

Cassie is a young girl who spends her life living in fear of her father and the things happening in her household. The events happening from the very age she can remember are weird and not normal to her. But she is told they are different and there is nothing wrong with it. The story is told from her perspective and we get to see a lot of suspicious activity and creepy conversations her dad has with her and her sister. Their father is a drunkard and throws all these unconventional parties, where a lot of things that happen are not the place a child should be. 

We really don’t know if Cassie is imagining certain things or has anything happened besides the uncomfortable, inappropriate things that their father says to them. The police officer is also a very creepy human being with his mannerisms attesting to it. The blase manner in which he avoids or even ignores the testimony and complaints of the attacks that happened to the young boys in the hometown is concerning and disturbing. 

The prejudices against homosexuals at the time and the way they were viewed by small towns is disturbing and sad. The way they are treated unfairly and often targeted for rapes and sexual abuse of young boys is unfair and wrong. Although it’s clear Mr. Connelly is not responsible for the kidnapping or sexual abuse, the way he behaves at times often makes the reader question his involvement and these behaviors and activities that arouse suspicion is not being clarified and just keeps the readers in the dark about it. 

Sephie is the older sister and the way she goes from being Cassie’s best friend to someone who doesn’t want any interaction with Cassie confuses her. The way Sephie becomes withdrawn as she becomes mature is concerning and leaves the readers to question if it has anything to do with their father. A lot of the times we see Cassie talking about her fears and how nighttime is when these fears get high. These descriptions are enough to keep the reader disturbed and creeped out.

The mother is one messed up an individual in this book. The way she basically offers herself to be pulled into various things is surprising and makes it clear she is willing to do and sacrifice her ethics to keep her husband. She is neglectful and often out of the house. She doesn’t want to acknowledge the wrongdoings her husband is capable of. Her turning a blind eye to everything her husband does and often being supportive of his questionable activities makes it hard to feel anything but disgust over her behavior. 

The characters who are all suspected come with their own unexplained stories that need to be addressed. We don’t know the motivation for the killer or the reasons why some of the characters did what they did. I know I am being vague about it, but I don’t want to write any spoilers if you are someone who is planning to check this book out.

I was very much excited to read the story and had high expectations when it came to this book. I was disappointed in the execution of it and the number of questions the story leaves unanswered made it hard to accept the ending as well. Was it thrilling? Yes, it was thrilling and there were these events that were foreshadowed in the book to keep the mystery going, but just left them without bringing clarity to the intention behind those events. There were a lot of creepy and weird happenings and the characters were really creeping me out. The mentality of small towns, prejudices against homosexuals, abuse, maintenance of a perfect facade on the outside, corrupt police officers are all brought attention to in this book. I felt the story could have gone in a better direction with a lot more clarity and answers when it comes to certain events.

Overall I felt the story was OK and it was interesting enough and engaging enough to keep the me reading it. I gave it 2 stars. This book is a quick read that focuses on some really heavy and dark events. If you want a book that delves into some dark, disturbing, weird and creepy happenings that are set in a small town then definitely check this book out.

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