The novel is set in three different time periods and features two related sets of characters, but it begins chillingly in the present when Amy takes a shotgun up the stairs of her house in Vermont. Jason, her friend from childhood who just talked to her a week before, is shocked to be called as a policeman to her house, only to find Amy and her family dead. Only her 10-year-old daughter Lou is outside on the roof.
In California, Piper receives a call from her sister Margot. She is shocked to learn that her ex-best friend Amy and her family are dead. Even more shocking is that it appears Amy killed her family and shot herself. Piper leaves immediately for Vermont, but she is preoccupied with memories of the summer she and Amy were 11, the last summer they were friends.
Occasionally, the novel returns to the 1950’s and the story of sisters Rose and Sylvia. Sylvia is the beautiful, favored child, and Rose feels she is treated unfairly. She believes something is wrong with Sylvia and starts wondering about her grandmother’s stories about monsters. She catches Sylvia sneaking out at night to go to the tower near the family motel.
Back in the present, Piper rifles her memory about the discoveries the girls made when they were 11. By then, Amy’s mother Rose is seldom around, rumored to be in a mental hospital. Sylvia disappeared years ago, presumed to have left for Hollywood and never heard from again.
This novel is not only truly suspenseful, but it is hard to predict. Several times I was convinced I knew what was going on, but I never did. It’s a truly gothic thriller.