Hello everyone and welcome to a brand new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Today, we are going to be discussing The Overnight Guest by Heather Gudenkauf – without giving any spoilers away, of course. Before we get started, I am going to be placing a trigger warning on this book for disturbing content, violence, and miscarriages. Now, let’s get to it:
Wylie is a true crime writer who is estranged from her family and has traveled to Iowa to complete the book that she is currently working on. Her new book also just so happens to take place in the very house that she has rented to write in. The parents of a young girl named Josie were killed there, her brother’s body was found on the property, and her best friend named Becky is presumed to be dead.
Despite the tragic history of the rental home, Wylie is making good progress until a massive snow storm takes place resulting in a power outage. As the snow quickly blankets the property, Wylie lets her dog out for the evening but he doesn’t return right away even in the frigid temperatures. Rather, he leads her right to the body of a little boy.
Miraculously, the child is still alive and Wylie knows that he couldn’t have made it to her house without some form of transportation because they are in the middle of nowhere. She braves the worsening storm in search of other survivors when she finds a woman in bad shape and an overturned truck. Knowing that she has to be the boy’s mother, she does all she can to get her into the home and, although grievously injured, she protects her child fiercely.
The arrival of her new guests has to be for a really good reason because no one with half a mind would think to travel in the dangerous conditions of the storm. Unfortunately, the boy refuses to speak to Wylie and his mom offers no help, either, not even their names. Eventually, Wylie learns that they are on the run from someone terrible and mother and son know that he will show up to reclaim them. Will they survive this unwelcome guest? And just what happened to bring the mom and son to Wylie’s place to begin with? Read The Overnight Guest to find out!
Unfortunately, delving deeper than the above summary will give away major plot twists in The Overnight Guest but I will say that it was an excellent read. It was completely unputdownable and even though I figured out a majority of the twists and turns, it still left me in utter shock. I finished this book in about four reading sessions and it was a great change of pace from the lackluster Maidens, which is the last book I read.
Wylie is a formidable main character to tell the story and she is strong and brave. The Overnight Guest went back and forth between her point of view, the mother and son’s, and the past when the original crime Wylie is writing about takes place. These multiple different story lines intertwined perfectly and I constantly found myself reading “just one more chapter” even when I thought that I was done for the day.
The content of The Overnight Guest is, admittedly, extremely disturbing and it is not a read for the faint of heart. A majority of this book is absolutely devastating and I don’t recommend it for those who could find themselves upset by it. Be that as it may, I am still awarding it with the coveted ten out of ten stars. This is, easily, one of the best books that I have read this year and if you think that you can manage it, then I can’t recommend it enough.
What are you currently reading? What should I read next? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah