From the moment I stepped into the words of this book I had the uncomfortable feeling of being just a little too familiar with the characters. Did I see myself? Maybe. Did I recognize similarities between PJ Vernon’s characters and a few of my own? Absolutely. It is not just that Vernon writes about broken people trying to find a path, it’s the manner of language, and the rhythm of the words tied together to create a song of the South Carolina low country. The house is described with such vibrant detail that it takes a role in the book as one of the main characters. Piper Point was magnificent in its decay.
This novel is complex and at no time during the story did I feel like I knew what was coming next. It didn’t follow a formula (thank you for that), and I didn’t figure it out until the last page. On my second listen-through, I realized that all of the clues were there, subtly, just at the surface, available for me to pick up. Vernon functioned like a magician, diverting my attention from the clues to the other action within the scene.
The narration was masterfully handled by Amy McFadden and Bahni Turpin. When I reached the end and found clarity, I went back to listen a second time to ensure all of the support pieces were in place for the resolution. They were. Every last clue was there, in plain sight all along. Listening through it the second time, I picked up on small details that I missed the first time through. To be fair, much of my listening time is done while I am doing other things, so I often go back a listen to a good book more than once. Had I read this one, I likely would have been able to pick up all the breadcrumbs in the first go-round.
This novel dives deep into marital and family dysfunction, the tragedy of kept secrets, childhood trauma, and mental illness. Vernon coaxes emotion and reaction from his readers with a very deft hand.