reviewed by Cara DiCostanzo
Kate Burke is a widow living with her two children, Max and Callie, in a remote farmhouse in Westport, Connecticut. Her late husband, a cop, was murdered outside their home two years ago and she has stayed in the home she inherited from her grandfather.
She awakens one night when a motion activated light in their backyard comes on and she sees movement. Is it an animal? She sees two figures that look suspiciously like teenagers disappearing into the darkness. It startled Kate when her phone chirps at the same time, and receives a call from her estranged sister, Rebecca.
Kate’s father-in-law, Leo, is there to watch over them but is controlling. Her next-door neighbors, Maria and Derek also are there to help along with her late husband’s best friend, Eddie. As incidents escalate, including a knife in the wall of the vacant cottage on her property and the seats being cut out of swings, Kate fears for herself and her children. When she finds someone to rent the cottage, she hopes that the incidents will stop, but unfortunately, they continue. She decides to bring her sister back to Westport, whom she hasn’t had a relationship with in years, due to many betrayals.
As her sister arrives in Westport, Kate’s stalker becomes more and more aggressive; taking nude photos of her through her window, sending threatening texts, and following her to the grocery store to leave sick notes on her car. The cops work overtime to find out who is threatening Kate and why. Though the reader knows who it is throughout most of the book, having figured it out within the first couple of chapters, we don’t figure out the why until much later. When Kate finally understands why she is being stalked, it all makes sense.
While Daniel Judson has created a scenario of a stalker situation, which is both terrifying and exciting, there are parts of the book that just make little sense. One example would be Kate’s relationship with her tenant, whom she seems to like very much, but then decides she is not interested for no reason at all except that he moves out and she has decided not to see him again. Another example would be Kate’s relationship with Maria, her neighbor and best friend for many years, which is dissolved in an instant after Maria finds out Kate has lied to her, with no discussion at all. There is also a sexual undertone throughout the book, which I can best describe as creepy, as it does nothing to further the story.
As one reader said, you will want to read The Cottage with all the lights on. Despite knowing early in the book who the perpetrator is, I could not put this book down. It was suspenseful, and I never knew what was going to happen next. I found Kate believable as a widow and concerned mother.