The Hermit Next Door
June 17, 2024
Book Review

The Hermit Next Door

reviewed by Lou Jacobs


An otherworldly mystery novella with a distinct element of the fantastic, as you would expect from the author of the highly acclaimed Iron Druid Chronicles series. Winnie Mae Chisholm is overcome with grief after her husband Benny’s accidental death.

With her insurance settlement, she buys a house in rural Oregon, seeking serenity and a drastic change in lifestyle. She yearns for peace, tranquility, and clean air, away from pollution and noise.

Mae desires a place on a river where she can see the stars at night without a haze and hear birds chirping instead of traffic noise and overhead airplanes. She drags her teenage son, Pax, virtually kicking and screaming from his everyday comforts in Tennessee. Their new home is in a small gated community of ten homes, with her backyard ending at the shore of the slow-moving Willamette River. The realtor assures her of the community’s quiet nature. The neighbor on one side is a retired couple, there only seasonally, while the other neighbor is a “famous” recluse not seen in years. He routinely gives large sums to local charities but never leaves his house, having everything delivered. He doesn’t even own a car and apparently lives off the royalties from patents of “some type of energy generation system.”

Pax is in a fight before noon on his first day! He has never been in a fight in his whole life.

He informs Mae that several boys mocked his accent, called him a “racist redneck,” and suggested his mother was probably his sister. He forlornly retires to the backyard. Shortly afterward, he thanks his mom for choosing this wonderful place, stating matter-of-factly that he has met their neighbor and he is the “coolest person on this planet.” Mae is astounded! Pax explains that the neighbor is a hermit for a reason: “he’s really different.” They’re going to hang out tomorrow!

Kevin Hearne proves to be a masterful storyteller as he weaves a fantastical, world-building narrative with colorful characters, not all of this world. With fun and charm, he comments on humanity’s treatment of differences. How will Winnie Mae and Pax come to the rescue of this mysterious neighbor? And what will be the limits of their endeavors to hide his secrets and motivations?

Thanks to NetGalley and Subterranean Press for providing an Uncorrected Proof in exchange for an honest review. I gobbled up this gem in one sitting and look forward to Hearne’s next offering.

The Hermit Next Door available at:

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