Cover Image: Last to Leave the Room

Last to Leave the Room

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Member Reviews

This was an exciting and weird story! It took me way too long to finish it due to time constraints, but I never wanted to give up on it. It was definitely different than anything I’ve ever read before. 

The story is very scientific, which made it difficult to understand in parts, but not so scientific that it made me not enjoy the story. 

I thought the basement and all the details that went into the description was fascinating and it made me want to know more about what was going on. 

The story is suspenseful and interesting all the way throughout. I kept wondering if I’d get any concrete answers, and I was not disappointed in the end.
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Last to Leave the Room is a work speculative fiction with horror and thriller elements. Dr. Tamsin Rivers, is a scientist developing communication technology. The city is sinking and Rivers discovers a doppelgänger in her basement. It's an interesting concept, but it fell flat for me.
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Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for this ARC in exchange for an honest review! 

I have loved all of Caitlin Starling's previous books especially the Luminous Dead so when I saw that this book was coming out, I knew I had to read it as soon as possible. Starling is also a PNW author and I always love supporting PNW authors. 

This was a WILD ride! I didn't know what to expect. I didn't look into this book too much before diving in. That is my favorite way to read horror and thriller books. This book was a bit slow at the beginning but it goes from zero to hundred so fast! I won't say anything specific because this is one of those books you should go in blind. 

I will always recommend Caitlin Starling books!
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3 1/2 stars

This book had great promise but I just couldn't get into it the way I hoped.  I think the storyline was inventive and original.  Unfortunately, there were inconsistencies for me that detracted from the story.  I couldn't connect with the characters and was left scratching my head a great deal.

I'm sure this book will be a favorite for many.  It just wasn't for me.

AUDIOBOOK REVIEW:  The narration was actually very strong.  I toggled back and forth between the ebook and audiobook.  I probably would have listened more consistently to the audiobook but I found that with the complexity of the plot, it was sometimes difficult to follow by listening and I was better actually reading it.  However, I believe that is just because it's how I respond best.  4 stars

Thank you to NetGalley for the opportunity to review both the ebook and audiobook.
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This book had me hooked from the start. The mystery of the city sinking and the mysterious door in Tamsin's basement had me reading as fast as I could. This book definitely gave me House of Leaves vibes as we watch Tasmin descend into madness and confusion. Unsettling is the word that I used to describe this book because it feels so real as we experience it, and it makes me wonder how much of this is actually possible. 

If you love a creepy work of psychological rollercoasters, this book is definitely for you.
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I’m not sure that I’ve ever read a speculative horror novel prior to Last to Leave the Room, but the premise of this book sounded too good not to give it a try. At the end of the day, I think some of the science fiction elements went over my head.I would find myself getting distracted and miss important details in the story (likely due to zoning out listening to the audio). I’m not quite 100% sure I’m smart enough to fully review this book, so I’m going to go with a pros/cons list review!

📚Unique premise: I loved this take on doppelgangers. 
📚The second half:  So much more action and tension! This part really brought forward the horror/thriller side of the story.
📚Tension/unease: Starling does a phenomenal job of bringing these vibes to the story!

📚Confusing: There was a lot of build up and details in the first half that I definitely think were essential, but they weren’t always clearly laid out. I listened to this one, so it might be more manageable reading the physical copy. 
📚The ending: I’m not sure it solved everything for me and I still feel a little lost. 

I adore Starling’s The Luminous Dead and have plans to read The Death of Jane Lawrence soon. Starling has a knack for unique stories and I think her writing makes her accessible for a broad range of readers looking for something with a fresh premise to read.
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I could not get into this book. It was so odd and confusing. I liked the idea of the doppelgänger but I felt the book got muddled with everything going on. I especially got confused on who was the doppelgänger and who was real, which might have been the point
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I really, really liked this up until the very end, when it felt like all of the existential questions of morality and identity kind of collapsed in favor of having a Villain, which was disappointing. The narrative portrayal of someone having a full breakdown (or not!) was extremely well done and made me feel like I was also losing my mind. Not a single character was likeable and I loved them all.
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Brilliant, self-interested, proud, cold and manipulative researcher Tamsin Rivers heads up a team researching the ground subsidence in San Siroco. She has no close ties to anyone, and is jealous of her control of her research and her lab, and has little respect or use for her researchers, except when it suits her.

When a door, impervious to opening or manipulation, appears in the basement of her home, Tamsin is thrown. Gradually, its presence affects her with nightmares, sleepwalking,and memory lapses to the extent that her boss and team notice.

When the door finally opens and reveals her double to her, Tamsin is shocked, intrigued, and after a little time, sees an advantage for herself. She names the double Prime, who at first is almost childlike in manner, has no memories, and lets Tamsin lead her about. With Prime's increasing display of skills and reasoning Tamsin sees how she can get Prime to participate in her research, which shows that her basement has descended more than other areas of the city.  Slowly, the relationship transforms with Tamsin losing more memory and her ability to function decreasing rapidly, and Prime begins taking over her life.

This unsettling, claustrophobic novel left me wondering what the heck was going on? First a door just appearing in her basement is frightening enough, but then her doppelganger stepping out of it?? 

Author Caitlin Starling builds a tense, quietly horrifying atmosphere. By leaving us always in Tamsin's point of view, we only know what she knows as she goes from treating everyone around her with a certain contempt, to what she becomes much later in the novel: lost, and reaching out. 

The reasons behind all the mystery (her double, the subsidence) never fully worked for me, though I liked the growing tension between Tamsin and Prime, as well as Tamsin and her somewhat menacing boss Lachlan. 

I preferred the author's previous novel ("The Death of Jane Lawrence") over this one, but certainly appreciated how chilling this book was.

Thank you to Netgalley and to St. Martin's Press for this ARC in exchange for my review.
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This is my third book by this author. I absolutely loved The Luminous Dead and I really enjoyed The Death of Jane Lawrence, but I was disappointed with this one. I thought the premise was fascinating, but I didn’t find it very compelling. The story follows Dr. Tamsin Rivers and if you’re looking for a strong female protagonist, she’s it, at least in the beginning, then at points later in the story her narration becomes unreliable.

Tamsin has no personal life. No family, no friends, no significant other. It’s just her and her cat. Hey, I’m a cat person. Tamsin’s focus is on her career. She’s a manager and not friendly with any coworkers or employees. She’s all about work. Unfortunately, she’s working on a project that is described in the most ambiguous of terms as a communications project that has the possible side effect of causing the city that she’s conducting research in to subside. I kept waiting to find out more about this mysterious project but apparently, the consequences of their experiments were more important to the plot than the actual project, which negates the whole focus on Tamsin only being about work for me.

Tamsin’s home includes a lab in her basement which is also suffering from the mysterious subsidence phenomenon and there is a mysterious door from which a doppelganger appears. After that the book literally follows her mundane day to day with the doppelganger with a few predictable events and some unreliable narration. By the time the relevant questions were starting to get asked in part 4, I just didn’t care anymore. 

Limited recommendations to those that enjoy stories involving doppelgangers. 

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for a copy provided for an honest review.
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The city of San Siroco is sinking, though just a few people know about it. Dr. Tamsin Rivers is one of those people. She has been conducting top-secret research on a new communication technology, and the powerful company funding it is keeping tabs on the dire measurements. What’s more concerning to Tamsin, however, is that she has been doing her own measurements — in her basement. Each day, she finds it is sinking much faster than the rest of the city. And it’s stretching — unaccountably getting bigger. One day, she finds a door in the wall that never existed before. She can’t open it, no matter what she tries. She becomes obsessed with the door and its uncanny properties and behavior.

Then one night, it opens, and a woman who looks exactly like her comes through. This … thing … doesn’t seem to know anything about itself, doesn’t know where it came from or what’s on the other side of the door. Tamsin runs it through all the tests she can come up with to determine if it’s human. And the double is perfectly happy to do whatever she asks. She’s agreeable, biddable and helpful, opposite of Tamsin’s selfish, egotistic, competitive nature.

Tamsin cannot understand what is going on; she continues to be completely obsessed with what is happening in her home. But then she starts forgetting things, losing parts of herself entirely. What is the double? What does she want, and what is she doing there? And what is on the other side of that door? Tamsin struggles to keep herself thinking clearly so she can get answers.

I picked up this book because I thought Caitlin Starling’s The Death of Jane Lawrence was incredibly gripping, clever and fascinating. What would Starling come up with this time? This novel is set in a modern world, without the gothic setting in the other book (I do favor gothic stories), and this was less ghost story than potentially horror. I just kept reading to see where the story was going, to see what Starling had up her sleeve — she could have gone any number of directions. I enjoyed Last to Leave the Room and how she crafted it, where it concluded, but I personally preferred the other book.
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Caitlin Starling is back at it again with the messy, ethically dubious characters and deliciously fucked up power dynamics.

I loved The Luminous Dead, and while it was very technical in parts relating to the cave diving equipment, it never dragged, and contributed to the eerie, atmospheric suspense. That same sense of suspense didn't really hit for me in Last to Leave the Room? The corporate scenes in the beginning were slow, and I wish we'd had more time with Prime instead. The larger plot was also murkier - I never really got the connection between the nodes and the doors/doppelgangers, and all we really got were a couple vague literary quotes during a rushed ending that weren't super satisfying. 

That being said, there were some genuinely creepy moments (especially the lead up and transition into part 3! 😳) and some really disorienting questions like, how many medical crimes would YOU commit against your creepy potentially evil clone? and, How much do or memories define us? etc. Solid spooky read for October.
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Elements of both sci-fi and horror, which may not be for everyone.  I found it weird in a good way.   You definitely need to stay focused while reading this. I went in blind and glad I did; you will have to slog though the first 20% before the story picks up but stick with it.  Thank you NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for the advances e-arc.
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Sterling’s latest novel is a gothic STEM infused tale where speculative fiction meets sci-fi. I just finished, The Last to Leave the Room which was weird and unsettling. The dreams I had!
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I was excited to read Last to Leave the Room because I've enjoyed Caitlin Starlings novels in the past.  The Luminous Dead was wonderfully claustrophobic and creepy.  I had trouble getting into this one, however.  

The premise is extremely creative -- I was very curious about the town sinking and the odd thing that happens in Tamsin's basement.  

However, Starling focuses so much on corporate politics in the first 50 pages of the book that I was completely turned off.  I wasn't able to connect with Tamsin as a protagonist, and the book left me feeling cold.  

I wound up deciding not to finishing reading, but I plan to check out more of Starling's work in the future.  I appreciate the way each of her books feels so different, even though the tone of this one didn't work for me.

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for my review copy of this book.
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Last to Leave the Room is Changeling meets Dark Matter in this incredibly unique sci fi thriller from Caitlin Starling. 

I had absolutely loved The Death of Jane Lawrence by the same author and was thrilled to be able to read her latest novel, which is absolutely nothing like her previous work, but just as engrossing and page turning. I have a great affinity for authors that are able to jump from genre to genre all the while still delivering spine tingling stories that keep you up at night. 

This psychological sci-fi thriller literally kept me up at night thinking about what was happening in the story and what I would do in a similar situation. I absolutely loved the slow breakdown of Tamsin and her complex relationships with both Prime and Lachlan. 

If you love speculative fiction and smart, well-crafted science fiction thrillers with flawed characters whose actions may or may not be questionable, then this is definitely needs to go to the top of your TBR. 

Huge thank you to NetGalley, Caitlin Starling, and St. Martin's Press for an advanced reader's copy in exchange for an honest review.
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This was a strange and creepy read! I loved the blend of science fiction and horror. It builds the suspense well and has a claustrophobic feel. It has psychological and supernatural elements to it. While I liked the main character well enough, I never fully felt a deeper connection, which left me feeling a little withdrawn from the story. I also wish the pacing were a little more consistent because it does drag at times. Things just get crazier and crazier throughout the story and I thought the way that the structure evolves as the character does was really well done. It gave me House of Leaves vibes with the house being something “other” and unexplainable. I didn’t feel quite fully satisfied with the ending and the level of explanations we got. I’m still not sure I’ve even fully processed it all. Weird is the perfect descriptor for this one. If that’s what you like, I’d definitely recommend giving this one a read. I’m sorry to say that I didn’t like the style/voice of the narration in the audiobook, something about it was irritating. I’m not saying that to be mean but it’s just my honest experience with it. Overall, I thought it was a good read, a solid three-star for me, and I’d read from this author again.
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No one does mental decay like Caitlin Starling. This one is a bit more scifi than I was expecting, but still enjoyed the ride.
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This book freaked me out in a very creative way & I thoroughly enjoyed the mind-bending creepiness of it.

Dr. Tamsin Rivers is a successful scientist that has enjoyed backstabbing her way up the corporate ladder of a somewhat shady company called Myrica Dynamics, but now she’s got a problem: the city she works in is slowly sinking, & no one knows why.  Could it be related to her research?  Tamsin’s basement also seems to be distorting at a much faster rate, & then a door appears that has never been there before: & out steps Tamsin’s exact double.  Is this other being human?  Where has it come from? What does it want?

This story was eerie & well-plotted, starting with a logical person applying the scientific method to a strange phenomena in her own home & spiraling into issues with agoraphobia & memory loss - with the looming specter of her employer’s enforcer, Lachlan, just adding to the stress in the first half.  I loved the cat, Penrose, & thoroughly enjoyed the unpredictability of this author - I need to read more from Caitlin Starling.

Thank you to NetGalley & St. Martin’s Press for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Dnf at eight percent. Going to be entirely honest here, I hate the way it’s started. The characters aren’t intriguing me and the story feels entirely flat. I loved the luminous dead by this same author, but it feels so dry and dark and not in a good way. I’m going to come back to it at another time and give it another chance, but it’s expiring on Netgalley currently. I don’t know what about this book, but it just feels off. It needed to grab my attention and it didn’t do that.
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