A genuinely creepy series starter from new-to-me author, Julian Kennedy. This book does end on a cliffhanger, but there are enough tied ends to satisfy, so I'm happy to wait for the next book in the Forgotten series.
The main character of this novel is Dannie, a non-binary real estate photographer, who discovers some key chains whilst taking pictures of a creepy old house they feel some eery connection with. They work with attractive, outwardly shallow Ashlyn, who is trapped in a relationship with abusive yet seemingly perfect boyfriend "Prince Eric." Dannie has to fight growing feelings for her friend, knowing Ashlyn is straight.
Danni's main support is Latina Rosa, who has a big complicated family who accept Dannie with love and kindness. She doesn't think a lot of Dannie's attraction to Ashlyn, but she is always there to support Dannie through their mental health crises, knowing their issues have been wrought by historical family trauma. All their stories are set against the backdrop of several old unsolved murders of young women in around the local area.
Despite a slight disconnect in the story (neither Dannie or their friends seemed to have heard of the murders) I found this crime novel, with great representation of enby and other LGBT folks, to be highly addictive. I read it over two mornings by the pool on vacation, and honestly couldn’t put it down. Told from several different points of view, the labelling made it easy to follow and I was hooked.
The trouble begins when Dannie discovers the keychains and, for some seemingly inexplicable reason takes them away and doesn’t hand them into the office. They had a reason to keep the keychains, but we don't realise what that is until near the end. All they know is, they are connected to the house in some way, but they are not sure they want to know why.
The story unfolds at a good pace, which was well-balanced and held my interest all the way. There are some tough scenes of rape and sexual abuse, but the author does give trigger warnings, so heed those as they are needed.
Dannie is highly relatable, sometimes prickly, sometimes warm, and vulnerable because of past trauma. I thought their relationship with Ashlyn grew beautifully, and didn't overpower the mystery element of the story. Rosa is a solid secondary character, who probably deserves her own story.
Until that cliffhanger, the story is wrapped up well whilst leaving enough unanswered questions to fill the next book. I can't say much more without giving away the plot, but this book is a great mystery crime thriller, with great LGBTQ+ rep and some genuinely searing scenes. An impressive start. I'm looking forward to the next book!
Buckle up for a gripping debut novel with an ending that will leave you curious, creeped out, and looking over your shoulder.
What would you do if you found something mysterious at work? How motivated would you be to figure out what it means, even if it scares you?
Dannie Northrop (they/them/their) is a real estate photographer who stumbles across something strange at a photoshoot– a set of keychains. That’s a fairly common item, but they’re found in a very strange place. Dannie already has plenty on their mind, but now they find themselves deep in a mystery that they aren’t even sure they want to solve.
They have dreams that frighten them, and massive anxiety to contend with. But they’re compelled to push forward by circumstances that are out of their control, fighting a battle against their own mind, all while trying to protect the person they love the most. The keychains are more horrifying than they could have even imagined.
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