Title: The Homecoming
Author: Andrew Pyper
Release date: February 26, 2019
I’ve been meaning to do a re-read of ‘The Homecoming’ for about six months or so, but I kept putting it off. The reason being – I typically don’t do much rereading because A) there’s so much out there I haven’t read and B) much like with movies, if I’ve already read/watched it then I know what will happen and it’ll lose some shock and awe. But, saying all of that; A) as you may know, I have a love of Pyper’s work, B) it has been three years since I’ve read it, so I knew I would be forgetting some aspects and C) recently, I was listening to an interview he did to promote ‘The Only Child’ while I was preparing to interview Andrew about that book, and at the end, the interviewer asks him what he’s working on. Normally, Andrew is pretty evasive about that in interviews. I consider myself fortunate that he actually answered this exact question when I interviewed him (and now I sit and wait!), but as I said, he answered it and said he wanted to write a thriller novel with a huge twist at the end – and that was this novel, ‘The Homecoming.’
You can watch that ‘The Only Child’ interview here if you so desire;
Now, as I said, this was a re-read, so if you want to see my original thoughts, you can here;
Funny enough, before I dive into the review, when I read this the first time, Andrew and I had already developed a friendship, but it wasn’t to the level as it is these days. So, when this came out, I missed the possibility of getting an ARC and this became an edition of his that was incredibly difficult for me to track down! The copy I do have I cherish, but crazily, the ARC for ‘The Only Child’ was even tougher to track down!
What I liked: The backmatter of the book uses this tag line: What if everything you knew about the people you loved was a lie? Intriguing right? And the front of the UK cover uses this lead in: One Family, One Month. All they have to do is survive. Got your attention yet?
The story follows the Quinlan’s, a family whisked to a remote, fenced property in the Pacific Northwest after their absentee father has died. The reason? The reading of the will. It is here that our main character, Aaron, reunites with his older sister Franny, his mother and his younger sister, Bridge. They are brought to an enormous mansion and the scope of just how wealthy their father becomes a reality.
Pyper doesn’t stop there though – the will states, that if they all remain there for thirty days, with no contact with the outside world and that they don’t leave the property, they’ll each split their quarter of their fathers money.
It’s from here that we get Pyper utilizing two of his common story aspects; strong family dynamics and the location/environment becoming one of the main characters.
Belfountain, itself plays such a role in the ‘unknown’ and the ever changing aspects of what the readers believes they know that it may well be Andrew’s best utilizing of location yet (The Wildfire Season and The Trade Mission pushing hard from either direction). As I mentioned in my previous review, the location reminded me so much of a massive mansion near where I grew up, The Blaylock Mansion near Nelson, BC. So much so, (and with the cover image mirroring architectural aspects of it) that this was the place I pictured this occurring at.
But, Andrew doesn’t stop there. We get mysterious cabins, a strange discovery in the woods and an external threat – two characters that come to be referred to as The Tall Man and the Witch. You’d think that would end there, but no, we also get a constant description of “deja vu” and shared dreams, which all work together to create a hyperventilating chaos where the reader gets sucked in and will be struggling to keep themselves above the surface.
And then we arrive to the horrible reality of what has been happening, what the true nature of this place was and is and, I’ve said this before, I’m thankful to see that Andrew is willing to go there. When people ask why I love his work so much, it’s this exact reason. Andrew writes like a literary behemoth, the type of prose and book narrative that lends itself to be featured on bookshelves, in airport kiosks and on the bestseller lists. The type of book that a person picks up randomly and ends up reading it before their boarding is even called, dipping back over to pick up another book from him. But, Andrew is also one of the few ‘Instant Bestselling’ authors out there who also is willing to have visceral, extremely violent moments and not hold anything back. When he goes there, his writing is rated R, not rated PG13 like many of the other ‘dark-thriller’ authors who saddle up next to his books country wide.
I wish I could tell you exactly why I love the ending of this book as much as I do, but stupid spoilers make it so I can’t. What I will say is this – on my reread, I actually saw some of the subtle clues that Andrew sprinkled throughout, at one point even groaning that in my first go around, I had missed a key detail. But that’s the beauty of Andrew’s writing. He’s a top ten new release author with a ‘Where’s Waldo’ of extremity soaking through the pages. You know it’s coming, you just need to find it before it finds you.
What I didn’t like: I kind of hate rereading Andrew’s work because each time I do it throws my “favorite Pyper book” list into complete disarray. ‘The Homecoming’ is that pop-song that gets stuck in your head and won’t leave. It is rock solid and almost completely difficult to pick apart as to anything that might turn you away from it. So, in fairness to all the other books I read and offer up something here, I should do that for this book too. I wasn’t a huge fan of the mom character. It makes sense when the book is done, but throughout, some of her reactions really annoyed me. And there’s a character, Jerry, that’ll drive you bonkers, but again, this is all purposeful. A means to an end.
Why you should buy this: Out of Andrew’s last number of releases, I’d almost offer up that this book is an overlooked gem. Between ‘The Damned,’ ‘The Only Child’ and ‘The Resident,’ this book came out and while I saw it shared a little bit, not near as much as I did with ‘The Resident’ and ‘Oracle’ his audio-only release. ‘The Homecoming’ is a gripping, pedal-to-the-metal, thrill ride. This book is tailor made for you to take it camping, or to the beach or your Air BnB on your vacation and have you ignoring everything else around you. People often ask me where they should start with reading Andrew’s work, and I usually say ‘The Demonologist’ or ‘The Damned’ or ‘Lost Girls,’ but honestly, I think it should be this one, now having finished it again. ‘The Homecoming’ shows Pyper’s literary brilliance with his Indie-extreme badge that he wears when his big five publisher isn’t looking. This will captivate you from page one until the very end and once done, you’ll feel the weight of this story leave you and let you breathe again.
Well done, Andrew. Phenomenal work.