Firstly, thank you so much to the publisher for sending me this messed up and yet brilliant short story from one of my favourite authors!
I'd also like to mention that this short story originally appeared as 'What Do You Do? in George R.R. Martin's Rogues anthology.
A young woman is making a living, faking it as a cut-price psychic working at Spiritual Palms (with some illegal soft-core sex work on the side). She makes a decent wage- mostly by telling people what they want to hear. But then she meets Susan Burke. Susan move to the city one year ago with her husband and 15 year old stepson Miles. They live in a Victorian house called Carterhook Manor, built in 1893. Susan has become convinced that some malevolent spirit is inhabiting their home, and taking possession of the stepson. She has even found trickles of blood on the wall. The young woman doesn't believe in exorcism or the supernatural, but she does see an opportunity to make a lot of money. However, when she enters the house for the first time, and meets Miles, she begins to feel it too, as if the very house is watching her, waiting, biding its time...
Oh my gosh why did I read this short story before bedtime? A psychological thriller, not a romance- a bad move on my behalf but oh my this story was brilliant...
The characters are not so likeable, deceitful, selfish, irritating and especially Miles a little bit terrifying.
We meet Susan Burke who comes to see our protagonist (whom we aren't given a name for, perhaps because this gives the effect of her being a soft core sex worker as well as a palm reader- living two separate lives) and seeks for help regarding her home. As a palm reader our protagonist makes some obvious guesses as to what's wrong and as she makes these assumptions she teaches you the tricks of the trade, which are clever and now seem so obvious to me now.
Susan invites our palm reader to her house where she meets her own child and Miles her stepson, the husband is supposedly away and she's left to look after the kids. Straight away Miles comes across as a spoilt, educated, arrogant, manipulative child who knows how to play with an adult's mind- particularly his stepmothers.
The psychological side of this thriller comes to light as the protagonist spends more time in the house investigating, not too far away is Miles checking up on her and making random appearances.
The outcomes of this story left me with thoughts like, who was the real enemy? Was Susan legit? Maybe Miles was playing a practical joke or he's mentally ill? Were Susan and Miles in it together? I'm still not sure!
This book really is an addictive, witty, hilarious, dark, mind-numbing, and just completely messed up! I can't deny that the messed up occurrences in this book are what make it so brilliant, we all need a bit of messed up sometimes to spice things up.
Ever since reading Gone Girl by Flynn, I have had such high expectations of her since and I'm thrilled to say she has held her reputation and my confidence in her because this short story is first class! After finishing I had a lot of disturbing theories in my head about the story's outcome, Flynn has the undeniable skill of sucking you in, making you question everything you understand and then rips the blindfold off leaving you bewildered and yet full of adrenaline!