Andrew Pyper, 2015
Danny Orchard nearly died when he was a teenager, in a fire that killed his twin sister, Ashleigh. To the world, Ash had been perfect – an honor student, the star of her school play, talented, and friendly. But those closest to her knew that she was really a psychopath, who would stop at nothing to get what she wanted. And when Danny failed to save Ash in the fire, what Ash wanted most was for Danny to die with her. And she’s never let him be happy since. So when Danny falls in love with a woman and marries her, becoming a step-father to her young son, he knows that he’s taking a risk. Because Ash has never really left him. And she won’t stop until she gets what she wants from her brother.
I had never read anything by Andrew Pyper before, but I think I’ll be picking up more of his books in the future. This book was scary without being overly gruesome or nightmare-inducting, and it was beautifully imagined without being overly flowery.
I really liked the character of Danny. He was human and far from perfect, so completely believable. His fear of his sister and what she could do felt real. As for Ash, she was delightfully creepy. Not so scary that it was over-the-top, but perfect in a child psychopath way that made me want to keep peeking over my shoulder while I was reading. Her inhumanity also helped make Danny all the more real to me.
I also loved the way that the author described Heaven and Hell. It could be so easy to make the descriptions overly detailed and imaginative, but Pyper made them both seem believable and other-worldly at the same time. I like the idea of Heaven being the best time of your life played out over and over again, and Hell being the worst.
Overall, this was a really enjoyably creepy ghost story. Not so scary or gruesome that it was going to keep me up at night (in the bad way), but compelling enough that it kept me up, wanting to know how it ended. A real page-turner with a good horror vibe. Recommended for fans of mild horror (hard-core horror fans probably will find this too tame) and ghost stories.