Review copy was received from Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The House in the Pines by Ana Reyes
Narrator: Marisol Ramirez
Published by Penguin Audio on January 3, 2023
Genres: Mystery, Suspense
Length: 8 hours, 34 minutes
Amazon, Audible, Audiobook, Barnes & Noble, Apple
Maya was a high school senior when her best friend, Aubrey, mysteriously dropped dead in front of the enigmatic man named Frank whom they'd been spending time with all summer.
Seven years later, Maya lives in Boston with a loving boyfriend and is kicking the secret addiction that has allowed her to cope with what happened years ago, the gaps in her memories, and the lost time that she can't account for. But her past comes rushing back when she comes across a recent YouTube video in which a young woman suddenly keels over and dies in a diner while sitting across from none other than Frank. Plunged into the trauma that has defined her life, Maya heads to her Berkshires hometown to relive that fateful summer--the influence Frank once had on her and the obsessive jealousy that nearly destroyed her friendship with Aubrey.
At her mother's house, she excavates fragments of her past and notices hidden messages in her deceased Guatemalan father's book that didn't stand out to her earlier. To save herself, she must understand a story written before she was born, but time keeps running out, and soon, all roads are leading back to Frank's cabin....
I considered The House in the Pines for many months before I decided to read it. I had the choice of ebook or audio and I’m glad I chose audio. The main character Maya is a bit of an unreliable narrator which contributed to how I felt about it. I didn’t like her very well for most of the time, until she finally made progress.
Maya witnesses her friend’s death at 17 and always feels there was something off about it. Frank, the guy she was seeing was there and while dating him, she lost track of time rather often. She never saw him again after her friend died. She knew he had something to do with it but no one believed her. Her mother had her see a therapist, which left her hooked on pills when she lost her health insurance, but no way to get more prescribed. Once she can’t get more, she can’t sleep and turns to alcohol.
In her state of drug withdrawal, and self medication by alcohol, she sees a video of another girl dying in a similar way to her friend. The girl was also with her brief boyfriend, Frank. Maya had only seen Frank for a few weeks before she went off to college. Basically, Maya starts researching Frank and his parents, and the girls who died. Maya has felt off for 7 years since her friend died. In the end, she finally figures it out and with that, she finally makes progress in her life.
Until Maya understands what happened, she is a mess and no one believed her from the beginning. I do feel badly for her since her mother tried to help but didn’t know that it was more help than hurting her with the prescriptions. I am not sure she would have ever felt better until she knew what happened and was finally believed by others.
I didn’t find the character or her interests very engaging. The story combined flashbacks to the past 7 years previously, and her present issues. The mystery was hard to solve and even investigate. I did like Maya once she got beyond her past in the end.
I have not listened to this narrator previously. Her voice was easy to understand, most of the book was stream of thoughts inside Maya’s head. There is not too much dialogue, so I didn’t get a sense of many other voices. I was able to listen comfortably at 1.5x speed
Listen to a clip: HERE
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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
I’ve been wondering about this book, since I’ve seen so many 3 atar reviews. It’s strange that Reese picked it for her book club but no one really seems to love it!
yes I wonder about it too. That’s one reason I chose to read it.
I was iffy about adding this one, too, and got the audiobook from the library. Thanks for the heads up about the unreliable narrator and the stream of consciousness thoughts in her point of view, Anne💜
Well it felt that way to me. Maybe you will think it’s all good.
Sorry this one wasn’t better!
I liked it, especially at the end. But the characters were not particularly lovable.
That sounds interesting. I’m glad you ended up liking it in the end. Sounds like her character went through a lot.
yes Maya did go through a lot so I don’t really blame her for some of her issues. The whole things was pretty unpleasant though.
I”m sorry this didn’t meet your expectations. It does sound a bit strange.
Well it isn’t exactly the author’s job to meet my expectations. I just didn’t like the characters well enough to love the book. Other people might really enjoy it. I liked it and I think I’m glad I stuck to the end because the ending was good.
I’d wondered about this one, specifically the audiobook. Enjoy your next read 🙂
I liked it. But the characters were definitely flawed and things were pretty weird and uncomfortable until the ending which I did like.
I didn’t grab this one just because I had more than enough to get through. While it does sound interesting seeing a character struggle with drugs and alcohol addiction isn’t fun. Glad you liked her by the end.
yes, at times it felt like there wasn’t a plot. There was but Maya had some flaws and everything was very odd. At least the ending was good.
I have this one on my tbr and am a bit hesitant. It kind of sounds interesting but I don’t always have a lot of luck with unreliable narrators.
yes she is mostly reliable if that helps. She is just unlikeable initially as well. She does turn herself around and the book ends well.
yes, it isn’t quite fair of me to dislike her for some things which aren’t her fault.