The Family Plot by Megan Collins, 4 Stars

I wonder if there are any families out there who completely isolates their children, homeschooling them and forbidding them to interact with anyone in their community, whose story has ended well? It’s a popular plot in movies and books and it always feels dark and isolating even to the reader. What must it feel like for those who have to live it?

If you loved The Haunting of Hill House, The Drowning Kind, The Family Upstairs, or any horror story built out of a strange family who really keeps to themselves, you’ll love The Family Plot by Megan Collins.

Now I kind of a have a true-crime obsessed family. We would all probably be classified as “murderinos.” On family vacations, we can all agree on Dateline and we’ll talk about and dissect crimes together. But the family in The Family Plot is just bizarre. The parents named their kids after famous crime victims, they run a kind of true crime homeschool and have weird prayer rituals and ceremonies for victims of violent crimes. So weird, right?

It does makes you wonder though, do strange things always happen to these fictional families because they are creepy to begin with or does the creepiness cause the strange things to happen. Is there a difference?

From the Publisher:

At twenty-six, Dahlia Lighthouse is haunted by her upbringing. Raised in a secluded island mansion deep in the woods and kept isolated by her true crime-obsessed parents, she is unable to move beyond the disappearance of her twin brother, Andy, when they were sixteen.

After several years away and following her father’s death, Dahlia returns to the house, where the family makes a gruesome discovery: buried in their father’s plot is another body—Andy’s, his skull split open with an ax.

Dahlia is quick to blame Andy’s murder on the serial killer who terrorized the island for decades, while the rest of her family reacts to the revelation in unsettling ways. Her brother, Charlie, pours his energy into creating a family memorial museum, highlighting their research into the lives of famous murder victims; her sister, Tate, forges ahead with her popular dioramas portraying crime scenes; and their mother affects a cheerfully domestic facade, becoming unrecognizable as the woman who performed murder reenactments for her children. As Dahlia grapples with her own grief and horror, she realizes that her eccentric family, and the mansion itself, may hold the answers to what happened to her twin.

My Review:

The Lighthouse kids are all required to leave their family home at the age of eighteen. No problem. Especially when their upbringing is so bizarre that it’s hard to fathom that anyone could be a fully-functioning adult after that nightmare. So when their father dies, it’s the first time the children return to their childhood home. But it’s bittersweet because Dahlia knows that the one person she’d like to see, her twin Andy, is unlikely to return. He disappeared or left at the age of the 16 and no one has heard from him since.

Still, no one really pursued it because the family was so strange. The mom, having lost her wealthy parents to a violent crime, moved into the isolated mansion and married a small town boy on an island in order to get away from crime. And they educate their children about crimes so that they will be less likely to become victims themselves. And the kicker? There has been a serial killer committing murders on the very island they live on throughout their childhood.

As I type it now, it seems farfetched, but Megan Collins does such a great job of drawing the reader into the Lighthouses’ bizarre world that although it’s bananas, it’s believable. People are crazy for sure! I don’t want to give away too much. And it sounds like I have, right? This one is so action packed I’ve really only covered tidbits from the first two chapters.

If you are looking for an atmospheric, spooky horror tale that will keep you up long past your bedtime, this is it. Special thanks to Netgalley and Atria books for an advanced e-galley in exchange for my honest review. This one is out September 29. Get your copy:

Indiebound

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