When Meredith (Meri) finds an old home movie of her and her mother, she is surprised when her father doesn’t want her to watch it. She had never known her mother, Becca. After watching the video, Meri is conflicted. Is this video truly the rambling of a woman with mental health issues, as she has always been told, or could there be any truth in this strange and dangerous story her mother ranted about and forced her to tell on camera?
Lie to Me by Jess Ryder was completely different than what I was expecting and I was pleasantly surprised. I didn’t find this one particularly dark or twisty, but I did find it intriguing in its exploration of past lives and family secrets.
The novel opens with Meri uncovering a video depicting her mother and herself (aged 4) in the yard of their family home. Her mother is ranting about needing safety and needing Meri to let people know who she really is. This leaves Meri, understandably, confused and sets her on a path to find answers bringing her to the gothic Darkwater Pool, an old estate and the scene of the murder of a young woman, thirty years prior.
The characters in this novel are fairly simple and easily digested, as is the plot. The novel is made up of a mixture of some really, amazing fast-paced moments and the rest feels sort of like filler. There are not any huge WOW moments, but more of a bunch of small moments that made me think, “okay, that’s random”. Ryder did a great job at throwing things I wasn’t necessarily expecting, but mostly because I felt like they didn’t truly fit together.
I did love the setting of this novel; I felt like this made this novel really stand out for me. The gothic tone to the Darkwater Pool estate and the eerie descriptions of its surroundings made me uneasy. Ryder truly does a phenomenal job with her prose and ends up creating another character with the setting.
Overall, this one ended up reminding me a little bit of The Possessions by Sara Flannery Murphy. I gave this one a 3/5 stars.