Life has been pretty hectic. We moved into an apartment in December that turned out to be an actual circle of Hell, and after dealing with that for several months we decided in the span of about ten days to pack up and move cross country. Needless to say, I've been busy. So, I read Stillhouse Lake and Killman Creek by Rachel Caine back in January, but didn't have a chance to review them. UNTIL NOW *cue intense theme music* I'm going to write a quick review for each book below (no spoilers), though if you have not read Stillhouse Lake yet, then I would recommend not reading the review for Killman Creek until you have. Cool? Cool. Let's do this.
Stillhouse Lake Review
"Gina Royal is the definition of average—a shy Midwestern housewife with a happy marriage and two adorable children. But when a car accident reveals her husband’s secret life as a serial killer, she must remake herself as Gwen Proctor—the ultimate warrior mom.
With her ex now in prison, Gwen has finally found refuge in a new home on remote Stillhouse Lake. Though still the target of stalkers and Internet trolls who think she had something to do with her husband’s crimes, Gwen dares to think her kids can finally grow up in peace.
But just when she’s starting to feel at ease in her new identity, a body turns up in the lake—and threatening letters start arriving from an all-too-familiar address. Gwen Proctor must keep friends close and enemies at bay to avoid being exposed—or watch her kids fall victim to a killer who takes pleasure in tormenting her. One thing is certain: she’s learned how to fight evil. And she’ll never stop."
First things first, this book opens in Wichita, KS, which is pretty cool for me because I grew up about 45 minutes away from Wichita in Hutchinson, KS. If you weren't aware, Wichita had an actual serial killer roaming the streets for almost 40 years before he was caught in the mid-2000s. Google 'BTK' if you're interested. It seems as if Caine plays off of BTK quite a bit, so it was actually interesting to have a working knowledge of the real serial killer's crimes. (I'd recommend reading this article about BTK's daughter. It helped me understand the characters a bit more.)
If I'm being honest, I knew right away who the killer was in this book. It felt rather obvious to me, and I definitely had one of those horror movie moments where I was shouting at the character to not be such a dimwit. The answer is standing right in front of you, you idiot! However, that did not in any way keep me from enjoying this book, especially because the ending still had a pretty great twist! The story had great pacing that kept me on the edge of my seat and made it difficult to put the book down. If I had any real criticism, it would be that there wasn't enough murder. Now, before you call the police and report me for being a psychopath, let me explain. I expected this book to be a slasher, and slashers are meant to be...slashery. They come with a body count, and if they don't, then you are actually reading a story about a stalker. So, I was disappointed. Now, it could be that this book should be classified as a thriller rather than a slasher, but even then, I think more characters should have died. It would have upped the tension. But again, I did still enjoy this book quite a bit.
*If you have not read Stillhouse Lake yet, again, I'd urge you to not read the description or review for Killman Creek below. There will be spoilers for Stillhouse Lake. Okay, bye.*
Killman Creek Review
"Gwen Proctor won the battle to save her kids from her ex-husband, serial killer Melvin Royal, and his league of psychotic accomplices. But the war isn’t over. Not since Melvin broke out of prison. Not since she received a chilling text…
You’re not safe anywhere now.
Her refuge at Stillhouse Lake has become a trap. Gwen leaves her children in the protective custody of a fortified, well-armed neighbor. Now, with the help of Sam Cade, brother of one of Melvin’s victims, Gwen is going hunting. She’s learned how from one of the sickest killers alive.
But what she’s up against is beyond anything she feared—a sophisticated and savage mind game calculated to destroy her. As trust beyond her small circle of friends begins to vanish, Gwen has only fury and vengeance to believe in as she closes in on her prey. And sure as the night, one of them will die."
Okay, so Stillhouse Lake ends with Gwen saving her kids from Melvin Royal's accomplices, but now Melvin has escaped prison (what kind of modern day prison allows a serial killer to escape? I mean, come on.) and he is after his former family.
Killman Creek is where the story takes a shift from slasher/thriller to...action? Detective book? I'm not entirely sure how to classify it, but it's not a slasher. Because of that simple fact, I didn't enjoy this book as much as I did Stillhouse Lake. However, once again, the story is still very much worth reading. I breezed through it in a couple of days and it was an edge of your seat, must find out what happens next kind of read.
Killman Creek branches off into multiple points of view, and I think some of the character's POVs were a bit weaker than others. Also, a lot of tie was spent digging into the inner-workings of each character's mind, which was interesting, but also slowed the story down a bit. My main issue with Killman Creek came with some of the character's decisions. I don't want to give anything away, but there were a few points where it felt like the characters were making reckless, idiotic decisions. Normally that is par for the course in a thriller, but Gwen and her two kids proved in the first book that they were more then equipped to take on a killer and wouldn't fall for simple traps, so it felt like they lost some of their mojo in this second book.
Overall, I enjoyed both books and I fully intend to read the next book whenever it is released.
If you've read these books, what did you think? What is your favorite slasher/serial killer book? Let me know in the comments!