(*This review was originally published here on May 10, 2019)
Title: The Homecoming
Author: Andrew Pyper
Release date: February 26, 2019
If you’ve followed me on any of my social media platforms – you’ve seen me rave about Andrew Pyper and how he’s my fav author. If you haven’t – well… uh… he is!
I’ve read a number of his works and as I’ve said before, something about the way he writes connects and resonates on a different wave length for me.
As I’ve made my way through prior releases, each one has etched itself into my mental library. It started by discovering The Demonologist, then I read The Damned and The Lost Girls. When I read The Wildfire Season, I sat stunned when it was done. There were so many personal connections that I felt like the story had been written specifically for me. It vaulted to my fav read by my fav author.
Then I read The Only Child. Someone had asked me if I’d read it and I said ‘yup’ all confident, then realized I had it confused with Lost Girls. So I snagged it, read it and was blown out of the water.
Pyper has a gift with using minimal words for maximum description. His prose flows so easily off the page that you are immediately sucked into the story and you begin to root for the characters almost from word one.
The Only Child had my favourite opening line of anything I’ve ever read. I didn’t expect it to be topped, and The Homecoming didn’t. But the opening chapter. Hells bells. Pyper goes straight to the jugular here and then its full throttle until the horrifying, heart breaking ending.
The Homecoming is one of the more unique tales I’ve read, but that’s with most Pyper books. Nothing is what it seems. Go read the synopsis of The Only Child as an example for that. His stories are complicated wrapped with technical aspects told with simple words. It’s the hallmark of a deft story teller but also a confident writer.
The premise is pretty straight forward – the often absent father, who lived a mysterious life, dies. His family is summoned to a sprawling piece of property in the Pacific Northwest where they find out that they will each receive a sizeable inheritance, but it comes with a catch. They must live at the property for the next thirty days, no contact with the outside world, no cell phones, no TV, no internet. No leaving the property. If they do they will be disqualified from their inheritance.
The property and house they’ve been brought to, is called Belfontain and the three grown children all have memories of the place – whether it’s actually being brought there when they were little or through stories they remember their dad telling them, the place has a fairy tale quality to it.
Pyper’s description of Belfontain actually reminds me of Blaylock Mansion near Nelson, BC. I grew up near Nelson and that mansion and property always had an air of mystery about it. If you’ve never seen it before, check it out – https://www.blaylock.ca/
Now, I’ll keep this review completely spoiler free, but within the first 20% of this book Pyper takes that simple premise and completely throws it out the window. More surprises from the father’s past make appearances, the dread and horror grow and Pyper keeps you guessing right up to the very end.
This book has elements of Frankenstein, A Clockwork Orange, The Island of Doctor Moreau and that’s just scratching the surface.
At the end of the day, this book was phenomenal and I would have read it in one sitting if time would have allowed.
I think even though Andrew Pyper is my favourite author, I read his work more critically than any of the other authors I love, because I have elevated my standards for what I expect of his writing. That sounds unfair, but I don’t think it is. I also know now, having read six of his books that I don’t expect to be disappointed.
I can’t say that Pyper has gotten better with each release he’s had, I would instead describe it as getting bolder, greater. There’s a quote floating around that says; “Pyper may be the next Stephen King.” I’ll second that but with two caveats. First – Pyper’s work is never bloated or overly detailed for page counts. The Homecoming is listed at 368 pages but reading it you feel like it could easily have been only 100. Every single word has a purpose and the story flows so freely and easily that you’ll be surprised at how much you’ve read in such a short time. The second is I’ve never read a Pyper book where I finished and went ‘huh?’ at the ending. Many people say King struggles to end his books, and I’ve come across that a few times, but never with Pyper. They always end purposefully. (Side note – Mr. Pyper, if you are reading this, feel free to write a 1000 page book. I’d read it!)
This is one review where I could go on and on, but I’ll wrap it up here. This was my first read for my PYPER-MAY-NIA celebration and tonight I’ll be starting The Trade Mission. When I reviewed The Only Child I said I put off reading it after I got it because I didn’t want it to end and not have a new Pyper book to jump into. To have The Trade Mission, The Guardians, The Killing Circle and Kiss Me lined up after brings a smile to my face.
In closing – I’m elated to read that The Homecoming is being adapted for TV. I’ve fallen out of love with watching TV but this will be one show I’ll make an effort to see. And for those at home keeping score or wondering – I can confidently say that The Homecoming has become my favourite Pyper release.
This is a must read for all fans of the horror/thriller/suspense and was an easy book to score 5/5.