Everyone is going to the housewarming party.
All the same people who lived on the street the day Abi vanished…
Will her mother finally learn the truth?
Ava only left her daughter in the pushchair for five minutes. The buckle was fastened, and she was sure it was safe. But when she came downstairs, the door was open and Abi was gone – she walked down the road, past the Lovegoods’ house, and was never seen again.
A year later, the Lovegoods throw a housewarming party, showing off the results of their renovation. Ava doesn’t want to go. She can’t bear to look down that end of the road, to see the place where Abi vanished, and she doesn’t want to spend time with people who don’t share her grief. Her husband Matt persuades her: he’s worried about her. A night out might do her good.
But as her friends and neighbours chat, and the drink and gossip flows, Ava learns something new about the day she has re-lived a thousand times. A throwaway comment which could change everything.
Ava thought she knew every last detail of that day.
She’s about to find out she was wrong…
This was the first book I had read by S.E. Lynes and it certainly won't be the last!
The Housewarming is a tense and dark story of 2 people going through every parents worst nightmare: the disappearance of their child. From the outset, Lynes encaptures the reader and quickly immerses them in the living nightmare and tragedy in which Ava and Matt find themselves.
The first person narrative for Ava is very well done and you can really feel the stress, heart break, anguish and utter maddening suspense that she goes through the day Abi goes missing. The way that the narrative jumps from one minute to another and back again perfectly illustrates how much Ava blames herself for what happens and how this guilt is causing her to slowly unravel. For a year she has buried herself with guilt and has slowly become her own worst enemy by constantly revisiting that awful day.
The level of emotion was super strong and you could so clearly picture Ava, Matt and Neil as they all went through their own dark and sad journeys. Each person had their own secret and dark side of the story and bit by bit, it ate away at them until it could no longer stay hidden.
I won't say much more as I don't want to spoil the story but overall I thought it was fast paced, tense and had you hooked from the beginning. The characters were super strong and so well depicted. However...I did find the ending a bit rushed and anticlimactic. The story was gradually building up to what I thought would be a huge twist but I was a little let down with where it went. The first half / two thirds of the book show a lot of promise but then it just didn't deliver for me in the end. That sense of suspense and nail biting dwindled and the ending just wasn't as big or shocking as I thought it would be. I also think the title isn't right. There's a lot more to the story than just the housewarming.
But overall, for anyone looking for an intense, suspenseful and dark story, this is definitely worth a read.
Big thank you to Net Galley for letting me read and review this before publication.
IN 3 WORDS/PHRASES:
'But it seems to me a tragedy both specific and cruel that all the things we might do to lift ourselves out of our lowest moments - a long walk, a carefully prepared meal, a favourite piece of music - are, in those moments, all the things we cannot face, while all the things that will make us feel worse, ,much worse - eating crap, drinking too many glasses of wine, staying in a room that vibrates with haunted silence - seem infinitely enticing.'
Ava, even though she did annoy me sometimes, I still thought she was portrayed super well and her anguish and sadness as so palpable that you can't but help to feel for her.