Little Red House
reviewed by Cara DiCostanzo
“But there’s a story behind everything. How a picture got on a wall. How a scar got on your face. Sometimes the stories are simple, and sometimes they are hard and heartbreaking. But behind all your stories is always your mother’s story, because hers is where yours begin.”
― Mitch Albom, For One More Day
We first meet Constance Foster, the antagonist of Little Red House, when she is living in NYC, struggling to get by. She receives a call that her very wealthy mother whom she calls “Aunt Eve”, has died. When Connie returns home to Vermont to hear the reading of the will, she finds that her twin sister has left everything and that Connie has been left a house in New Mexico that she has never heard of. This book is very dark and twisty, with a major twist towards the end that felt not quite genuine. Liv Andersson’s new novel is all about mind games and a young woman who is trying to survive under her Mother’s twisted games from the grave.
Little Red House is told from two time periods (1997 and present) from two points of view, Constance and her sociopathic mother, Eve. We met Eve in 1997, looking for her daughter Kelsey in a small town called Nihla, New Mexico. Kelsey has disappeared and the last place she was seen was in Nihla. She is a widow, who had Kelsey when she was 15, with a much older man, who passed away in a car accident. Eve is about as unlikeable and vile as any character I have read before. Her contempt for her daughter seems endless and I am not sure why she is even looking for her, except Kelsey is 17 and Eve has some responsibility for her.
Connie has always had a tumultuous relationship with Eve, while her twin Lisa has been pampered. The freedom she feels from her mother’s death is short-lived. Somehow, Eve is still manipulating and pulling strings from the grave as specified in terms of the will. While Lisa gets all the money and properties, Constance only receives $5K for airfare, food, and initial expenses, and after that, $5K per twelve-month period and a dilapidated red house, which has been boarded up for 20 years. Unfortunately, she cannot rent or sell the property for three years. When she tries to fire the caretaker of the property, Jet, she finds that he also has a contract with Eve, which stipulates he must stay for three years. At 13 Mad Dog Road, her dilapidated red house is full of dust, cobwebs and darkness.
When Connie meets the locals, she hears there is a serial killer on the loose in Nihla, and that it may be the same person who killed six girls twenty years ago, who were raped, mutilated and murdered. When she asks for more information, she finds a town unwilling to part with any information. Pretty soon, they are finding bodies of people Connie knows, and she wonders if she is next.
Andersson pulls the reader in from the first page, and then again with a creepy red house. Along the way we wonder what other tricks Eve has up her sleeve. This is a highly suspenseful book, and I had a hard time putting it down. Connie is not without her faults and I loved reading a character who made mistakes and was not perfect. Connie and Eve are both very complex characters and between the secrets of their family, the woman disappearing and the toggle between past and present, you will be up late wondering what happens next.