The House in the Pines by Ana Reyes is an intriguing and suspenseful story about a woman’s search for the truth.
When I first heard about this story and saw the cover—I thought it might be a bit of a generic thriller. I wasn’t sure if I was in the mood for it, even with the endorsement of Reese’s Book Club. However, a friend read it and recommended it. So I gave it a try.
And I liked it! While not a perfect story, there’s actually quite a bit of depth and I was so interested in where the story would go. I truly had no idea and just went along for the ride. Sometimes I think it’s more fun to be completely surprised by thrillers rather than guessing all the key reveals.
What’s the Story About
Maya was a high school senior when her best friend, Aubrey, mysteriously dropped dead in front of the older man named Frank whom they’d been spending time with all summer. After the tragedy, Maya drowns herself in alcohol and drugs to numb the pain.
Seven years later, Maya lives in Boston with a loving boyfriend and is dealing with the secret addiction that has allowed her to cope with what happened years ago, the gaps in her memories, and the lost time that she can’t account for.
However, her past returns when she comes across a recent YouTube video in which a young woman suddenly keels over and dies in a diner while sitting across from none other than Frank. Plunged into the trauma that has defined her life, Maya heads to her Berkshires hometown to relive that fateful summer to finally solve the mystery of what happened to Aubrey.
The story is told both in the present timeline of Maya returning back to her hometown and also the past, leading up to Aubrey’s death. I thought the author balanced both timelines well and it generally flowed nicely.
A big component is that Maya has gaps in her memories of her time with Frank and what happened with Aubrey. So with that, she becomes somewhat of an unreliable narrator and the reader has to decide if what Maya is relying is actually the truth.
That said, I was not a fan of a woman lead character, once again, harboring alcohol and drug abuse. I’m extremely tired of this plot device in thrillers. It’s overdone at this point.
I understand what the author was trying to convey but it just feels repetitive at this point. I will say, unlike other thrillers, it doesn’t go on and on about that aspect but it’s still present throughout the novel so that did take away from the story a bit for me.
The mystery of what happened to Aubrey and also the other woman at the diner is very interesting. While Frank is present for both deaths, there’s no evidence of any foul play by him. And no drugs or anything like that showed up during the investigations.
And coupled that with Maya’s memory loss of her moments with Frank—it truly is perplexing.
All in all, I think this is a good and entertaining thriller. There are uneven parts but it really does try to cover many different topics from friendships, mother/daughter relationships, jealousy, addiction and more.
Prior to becoming a mom myself, I would stay up late reading books here and there with no issue. Now I try not to read too late as I need that sleep to chase a toddler around, haha. However, I had to know how this story would end so I found myself breaking my rule and staying up to read to the end. So that’s a big endorsement there!
I do see why Reese’s Book Club selected it and I think it’s a good one for book clubs. Check out my book club questions here.