THE VISITORS by Catherine Burns {Review}


Catherine Burns


Marion Zetland lives in her family’s crumbling mansion with her cruel and domineering older brother John. Despite a childhood filled with great wealth and good fortune — private schools, Bentleys, and a full-time staff — Marion craved love and affection from her family and friends to no avail. She believed that her weight, plain appearance, and low IQ was to blame for the world’s contempt for her. Her brother, John, though monstrous and wicked at times, was the only one to show her any compassion — no matter how twisted.

Now in their fifties, John, never married and Marion, a spinster, live together in their childhood home which has become a run-down “Grey Gardens”-esque hoarder’s paradise. Marion has created a fantasy life that continues to blur with her reality. Perhaps this is how she deals with the strange women’s clothing that continuously shows up in the dirty laundry and the sounds coming from their basement. Her brother, always obsessed with torture and captivity, spends all his time in the basement with his “visitors.”

It is only when a heart attack cripples John that Marion is forced to go into the basement and face the dark side of her brother that she’s turned a blind eye towards for so long. As Marion deals with the fantasies she’s built in her own mind and the dark reality of who or what is living in the basement, the reader is brought on a suspenseful unraveling narrative that forces one to wonder how well they can ever truly know someone — and how well do they even know their own true nature.

This dark, compulsive read kept us up through the night to its thrilling conclusion. Once you start Burn’s debut thriller, you won’t be able to stop until you know the true mystery of “the visitors.” A great book for Halloween that must be read with the lights on.

Read more about debut novelist Catherine Burns and THE VISITORS.

From the Publisher:

“Once you start Catherine Burns’s dark, disturbing, and enthralling debut novel, it’s hard to stop. The Visitors is bizarrely unsettling, yet compulsively readable.” —Iain Reid, internationally bestselling author of I’m Thinking of Ending Things

With the smart suspense of Emma Donoghue’s Room and the atmospheric claustrophobia of Grey Gardens, Catherine Burns’s debut novel explores the complex truths we are able to keep hidden from ourselves and the twisted realities that can lurk beneath even the most serene of surfaces.

Marion Zetland lives with her domineering older brother John in a crumbling mansion on the edge of a northern seaside resort. A timid spinster in her fifties who still sleeps with teddy bears, Marion does her best to live by John’s rules, even if it means turning a blind eye to the noises she hears coming from behind the cellar door…and turning a blind eye to the women’s laundry in the hamper that isn’t hers. For years, she’s buried the signs of John’s devastating secret into the deep recesses of her mind—until the day John is crippled by a heart attack, and Marion becomes the only one whose shoulders are fit to bear his secret. Forced to go down to the cellar and face what her brother has kept hidden, Marion discovers more about herself than she ever thought possible. As the truth is slowly unraveled, we finally begin to understand: maybe John isn’t the only one with a dark side….


Bookfinds Editor. Book Reviewer.

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