The Uninvited by Liz Jensen
Published by Bloomsbury USA
Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Hesketh Lock is an anthropologist investigating a scandal in the Taiwan timber industry. Shockingly, his contact in Taiwan dies suddenly at the same time that Hesketh learns of a series of bizarre murders back home of children killing their parents and caretakers. Unable to connect well with other people due to his Asperger’s Syndrome, Hesketh does have a close relationship with his stepson, Freddy, and when Freddy starts acting strangely Hesketh knows he must turn his investigation towards these horrific acts being committed by children. Hesketh will do anything to protect Freddy from whatever is happening to these kids, but he might just lose everything else in the process.
I was SO intrigued by this book when I started reading it! I was even more intrigued by the fact that I couldn’t figure out what the heck was going on, but deep down I felt confident that Jensen would clear everything up for me eventually, so I relaxed myself and settled in for the ride.
What I really enjoyed about The Uninvited was that it was a thriller, very focused on plot, but still Jensen really gets the reader into the head of the main character, Hesketh, and therefore gives the reader the opportunity to get to know him and truly care about him. The situation between he and Freddy’s mom was heartbreaking to me and it hurt me deeply to understand that Hesketh was being kept from seeing Freddy, so this kid had a father figure who truly loved him, yet he was kept from experiencing that love. That human element of this otherwise incredibly strange, twisted, but thrilling story is what really kept me tethered to the book and held my interest.
And strange and twisted are perfect words to describe this book. Children were killing their parents in horrific, disgusting, beyond disturbing ways. SO creepy! But I have to admit that I was interested by this – it certainly kept me turning the pages, desperate to find out what on earth could have possessed these children to act so, well, possessed! Scary.
Unfortunately, the ending really disappointed me and I’m not sure I can get over that. I won’t give anything away, but it wasn’t clear enough to me, I didn’t feel any solid answers were given (that I can accept, anyway) and I was left with a horrible empty feeling that I don’t think I can forget. While the book showed lots of promise, ultimately the ending ruined it for me.
The Uninvited is definitely a thrill ride that will appeal to lots of readers because of the personal, human element of the relationship between Hesketh and his stepson. While the ending, for me, was so disastrous to cancel out most of the good feelings I had about the book, other readers may disagree so I would still encourage you to pick up the novel and decide for yourself. This was an interesting read, to say the least!