***Thanks for the free copy in exchange for an honest review***
Teddy has a secret….
She’s so consumed with guilt that it compels her body to literally unravel unless she feeds off the emotions of others. Teddy’s parasitic condition is usually tempered easily and is invisible to most, unless she feeds from them. However, her insatiable hunger has already begun to threaten her safety. Trapped in her tiny Connecticut hometown thanks to a careless mistake which cost her a prestigious scholarship, Teddy grieves her father’s death and cares for her neurotic mother, Mercy, who is convinced scorpion venom is the only remedy for her own peculiar skin ailment linked to her daughter’s sadness.
Once an aspiring songwriter, Teddy now merely alternates between shifts at the local market and visits to the house of her eccentric neighbor, Mr. Ridley, for fresh scorpions to bring to her mother. It’s during one of her routine visits to Mr. Ridley’s subterranean grotto of exotic animals that Teddy meets an unusual young girl named Kiiara. Immediately enamored with one another, Teddy soon discovers that Kiiara is hiding a gruesome secret, too – a secret that will threaten to undo everything Teddy has ever known and loved, and violently touch all those who cross their path with disaster.
I enjoyed this fast-paced novella. The author was great with setting details. The book was character-driven focusing on Teddy and Kiiara. The drama was interesting. Since there was no horror (for me as a reader) until the very end of the story, I couldn’t tell if this story was literary, horror, or fantasy. Whenever Teddy could read a person, part of her skin would coil. Was this just in her head? Was she the only one this happened to? Was this a fantasy world? A normal world? I couldn’t tell, but those questions not being answered didn’t stop me from liking the story.
My favorite lines: 1) “I often feel lost, even to myself.” 2) “Everything I’ve lived, I’ve lived through other people. I’ve convinced myself that their stories, their troubles, their passions were mine.” 3) “The thing I’ve so desperately tried to convince myself otherwise is true–people know.”
The ending was pretty intense. The very last scene I felt for Teddy. It was a lasting impression of what she did after making her mom go to the neighbor’s house. I thought about it long after finishing the novella, which I gave props to the author for writing a compelling drama.