You Let Me In by Camilla Bruce
Title: You Let Me In
Author: Camilla Bruce
Publisher: Bantam Press (Random House UK, Transworld Publishers)
Published Date: March 5th 2020
Length: 288 pages
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Horror, Adult
Rating: 4 /5
‘By the end of the third page I was not only hooked, but beginning to think that this might be the best book I’d read all year.’ Joanne Harris
‘I wanted someone to know, you see. To know my truth, now that I am gone. How everything and none of it happened.’
Everyone knew bestselling novelist Cassandra Tipp had twice got away with murder.
Even her family were convinced of her guilt.
So when she disappears, leaving only a long letter behind, they can but suspect that her conscience finally killed her.
But the letter is not what anyone expected. It tells two chilling, darkly disturbing stories. One is a story of bloody nights and magical gifts, of children lost to the woods, of husbands made from twigs and leaves and feathers and bones . . .
The other is the story of a little girl who was cruelly treated and grew up crooked in the shadows . . .
But which story is true? And where is Cassie now?
It took me a while to get around to this review because I was still trying to wrap my mind around my feelings and trying to put them to words was a bit hard. As usual whenever I read something I am not used to reading. When I started the book, I had the feeling that it would be a murder mystery with some oddness? Boy, was I far off!
Reading this book is like being in a dreamlike state where you are not sure if what you are feeling is real or not. Think of foggy roads, deepest of green forests with a sense of something otherworldly about them and then, in between those is a feeling that something is truly, horrifyingly wrong about the picture you are looking at.
Cassandra has always been able to see fairies, one of them being the ‘Pepper Man’, they have been around her since she could remember. She can also remember that the Pepper Man has been feeding off of her for as long as she can remember. Literally. Due to this and a number of other things, the adults in Cassandra’s life think she’s an odd child and then later, a troublesome one. Then as time passes by, the adults finally think that maybe Cassandra is mentally ill and maybe could benefit from counselling. However it all backfires when the counselling reveals a troubled child trying to suppress some trauma and most likely, abuse.
Throughout the book, the readers are left wondering which one is the truth? Is Cassandra really seeing fairies or is she a troubled person who is trying to hide behind fairies rather face her trauma. The book is written in such a way where you are constantly changing your thoughts about this and I think this is where the author’s brilliant writing truly shines. Things are left so seriously ambiguous that I still don’t know where and when this story was supposed to take place, it just happened somewhere in the world and that’s all.
The fairies themselves are not your traditional ones either, they once used to be humans and now they have forgotten how to be one. They are not evil but they are not good either, think Gollum only in multiplied? They are the only ones who do seem to have Cassandra’s concerns in mind and while they are not doing anything that would help Cassandra in the long run, to Cassandra, they are the only ones who truly care for her. Especially the Pepper Man. Her relationship with the Pepper Man is so uncomfortable to read. It’s slightly parasitic (?) in nature, he after all feeds off of her and she in turn gets gifts from him. (Like fairy ‘teas’, trust me you need to read about it) Things truly become uncomfortable and downright bad when Cassandra and the Pepper Man become intimate. Yes. That’s right. There’s a sexual aspect to it that I might never be able to stomach.
It’s a bizarre and creepy book that’s going to stay with me for a long while, if only because of its brilliant writing and atmosphere. Also, if anything put me off, it was the second person narrative that almost never works with me. However there’s a way it can be done well and this time, it was. It took me a bit to really get into the book because the first chapters are all about the house Cassandra lived in and her niece and nephew but once Cassandra’s story truly starts, I can assure you, it will not let you go. The language is lush and rich, there’s a certain morbidness to the story that reels a reader in and despite the strangeness of it all, I was hooked till the end.