WELCOME TO ROWAN, AMERICA’S BEST-KEPT SECRET.
Annie is newly thirty and newly single when she moves to Rowan. Recently dumped by her long term boyfriend/best friend, Annie is on her own for the first time and she’s not a fan. When she’s not teaching “hormone-addled, angst-driven evil meat sticks”, she’s hitting the bottle.
It isn’t long before Annie meets Sophie, who’s beautiful and self-assured. The people of Rowan behave differently when Sophie is around, though. It’s almost as if they’re scared of her.
“Want me to curse them for you?”
“Sure,” I say.
Annie loves the attention and care that Sophie lavishes on her but it made me feel claustrophobic. The relationships in this book (Annie and Sam, Annie and Sophie) are all kinds of messed up. It’s no coincidence that the first movie Sophie watches with Annie is Gaslight.
I wanted Sophie’s wardrobe and wouldn’t have said no to her home cooking but wasn’t a fan of her. To be fair, she does want Bruce to win in Jaws so she can’t be all bad, but I don’t know if I can trust someone who hates unicorns. I’m all for having the confidence to be who you truly are but if claiming your power results in an entire township being terrified of you, then that cheapens it for me.
My favourite character, Ralph, had no lines but he made up for it in personality. I’m a sucker for spiders who can pull off wearing a top hat, especially when they also have a great smile.
Overall, this was a lighter read than I was expecting but that’s not to say there weren’t some memorable lines:
My insecurity returns like a villain in a sequel. The same but worse.
I embrace the next morning with all the enthusiasm of a goat entering Jurassic Park.
Readers with emetophobia may have trouble with some scenes.
NOW LEAVING ROWAN. KEEP OUR SECRET.
Thank you so much to NetGalley and Titan Books for the opportunity to read this book.
Once Upon a Blurb
All her life, Annie has played it nice and safe. After being unceremoniously dumped by her long-time boyfriend, Annie seeks a fresh start. She accepts a teaching job that moves her from Manhattan to a small village upstate. Her new home is picturesque and perfect. The people are all friendly and warm. Her new apartment is lovely too, minus the oddly persistent spider infestation.
Then Annie meets Sophie. Beautiful, charming, magnetic Sophie, who takes a special interest in Annie, who wants to be her friend. More importantly, she wants Annie to stop apologising and start living for herself. That’s how Sophie lives. Annie can’t help but gravitate toward the self-possessed Sophie, wanting to spend more and more time with her, despite the fact that the rest of the town seems… a little afraid of her. And, okay. Sophie’s appearance is uncanny and ageless, her mansion in the middle of the woods feels a little unearthly, and she does seem to wield a certain power… but she couldn’t be… could she?