The Heiress
September 2, 2023

Book Review

The Heiress

reviewed by Sandra Hoover


Goodreads | Crossmyheartbookreviews

The Heiress is a deliciously wicked, bone chilling, highly addictive gothic suspense thriller masterfully crafted by author Rachel Hawkins.  The story is utterly captivating, meticulously plotted and nigh on impossible to put down.  Clear your schedule for this one, and above all else, remember it’s not over until it’s over.  

The Heiress centers around the infamous McTavish family, a rich, prestigious, multi-generational family living in Ashby House high in the Blue Ridge Mountains reigning over the town of Tavistock, North Carolina.  At the heart of the family is the now deceased, notorious Ruby McTavish, the larger-than-life matriarch who rules the estate and the town in life and death.  Once suspected of having murdered four husbands, sharp witted, beautiful Ruby has been surrounded by dark secrets, gossip, and suspense her entire life, starting when she was kidnapped as a toddler from the forest surrounding Ashby House only to be discovered eight months later residing with a family in a nearby town and returned home.  Over the years, Ruby ignored the rumors and innuendos that persisted, relishing in the fame, power and protection the family wealth afforded her.  Having remained childless, she eventually adopted a son, Cam who was shocked and dismayed to learn he inherited everything including the ominous house and nine figure income upon her death.  Turning his back on his inheritance and aunt and cousins who have a lifetime right to reside in the mansion, Cam escaped to Colorado choosing to spend the next ten years etching out a living teaching while truly happy with his wife Jude.  It’s only under extreme duress that he returns to Ashby House after his uncle’s death to settle affairs of the house and family once and for all.  While Jude is immediately smitten with the house and obvious wealth that is rightfully theirs, Cam struggles to hold it together as the dark secrets and skeletons he left behind when he fled the premises are waiting, and it’s clear they aren’t finished with him yet.  The story that unfolds is insanely intense, mysterious, sinister and absolutely riveting.

The Heiress is hands down one of the best domestic/gothic thrillers I’ve read in some time, skillfully intertwining two timelines together over generations to tell a story of greed, entitlement, power, love and hate.  Alternating chapters and timelines are brought together with Ruby’s letters affording readers access to the appalling true story of the life of the scandalous widow.  The story is narrated from three points of view – that of Cam and Jude in the present and Ruby in the past via chilling, remorseless letters left behind telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the sordid truth.  Her story is stupefying, heartbreaking and outrageous.  Hawkins has an amazing gift for creating empathy for characters with questionable actions by allowing readers to get a peek at the motivations driving them.  Be prepared to be shocked when character’s scandalous actions and secrets surface clueing readers into their malevolent intent while setting a tone dripping with malice and bad vibes.  Unfolding at a fast pace, the story is driven by the unsettling, highly atmospheric setting of a house with secrets and skeletons hidden within its claustrophobic walls, leading readers to wonder if anyone will survive.

Rachel Hawkins has penned what I believe to be her finest work yet in The Heiress.  Meticulously plotted with brilliant characterizations, this story never stops shocking readers even in the final pages when you think you’ve finally learned the whole ugly truth only to realize this author isn’t quite finished astounding you yet.  From the first page to the last, The Heiress is a stunning, gripping tale of suspense that ranks among my favorite reads of 2023 thus far.  Highly recommended to fans of domestic and/or gothic suspense thrillers.  Do not miss this one!

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