The Visitors

Gripping thriller, you won’t see the end coming

This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.

Buy this Book on

You must sign in to see if this title is available for request.
Send NetGalley books directly to your Kindle or Kindle app

To read on a Kindle or Kindle app, please add as an approved email address to receive files in your Amazon account. Click here for step-by-step instructions.
Also find your Kindle email address within your Amazon account, and enter it here.
Pub Date 03 Oct 2017 | Archive Date 11 Jul 2018


Perfect for fans of Paula Hawkins and Ruth Ware.

Can you escape the darkness within?

Marion Zetland lives with her domineering older brother, John in a decaying Georgian townhouse on the edge of a northern seaside resort. A timid spinster in her fifties who still sleeps with teddy bears, Marion does her best to shut out the shocking secret that John keeps in the cellar.

Until, suddenly, John has a heart attack and Marion is forced to go down to the cellar herself and face the gruesome truth that her brother has kept hidden.

As questions are asked and secrets unravel, maybe John isn't the only one with a dark side.


'Once you start Catherine Burns’s dark, disturbing, and enthralling debut novel, it’s hard to stop. The Visitors is bizarrely unsettling, yet compulsively readable' Iain Reid

'Burns blurs the line between crime fiction and horror... Deliberate pacing, a claustrophobic setting, and vivid, wildly unsympathetic characters complement the twisted plot and grim conclusion' Publishers Weekly

'An insightful study of loneliness and evil' Daily Mail

'Must read' New York Post

'Atmospheric, eerie and affecting. Catherine Burns has created a complex and chilling world in which nothing is as it seems. A very clever confident novel, beautifully plotted with multiple twists and turns. I couldn't stop reading it' Suellen Dainty

'Burns combines a study of a middle-aged woman, a tale of a highly dysfunctional family and slow burn of a mystery, creating a compelling read that's at once highly entertaining and wholly disturbing ... A dark and thrilling debut novel: disturbing, gripping, and hugely impressive' The Bookbag

'Burns combines a study of a middle-aged woman, a tale of a highly dysfunctional family and slow burn of a mystery, creating a compelling read that's at once highly entertaining and wholly disturbing ... A dark and thrilling debut novel: disturbing, gripping, and hugely impressive' TM Logan

'Absolutely loved it. I would advise any nail biters to sit on their hands while reading this book because they will chew right down to the knuckle. By far the creepiest novel I have read in a long time ... a highly original and intriguing mystery so compelling that I abandoned my own work to finish it' Liz Nugent

'Compelling and wonderfully dark, choked with suspense and yet leisurely in the telling. I enjoyed it immensely' Emma Curtis

'A dark exploration of evil in its many forms, this is an uncomfortable and disturbing yet utterly compelling read' SJI Halliday

'A dark, compelling story with a few twists and turns that will keep the reader glued to the pages ... I found myself completely engrossed in Marion's disturbing world, which was well drawn by Catherine Burns. A very strong debut' Sarah Denzil

'An insidious, creepy novel, with a slow burn that leads to a horrifying revelation' Literary Hub

'Beautifully written… [a] dark, gritty and inviting tale that explores the darker side of human nature' Review Corner

'A wonderfully dark and suspenseful read from a talented debut author' Damp Pebbles

'The writing, the characters and the mood of this book were absolutely superbly done' BookBum

'A deeply disturbing and unforgettable novel, dripping with evil and horror… furiously gripping, addictive and absolutely impossible to put down' The Book Babe

Perfect for fans of Paula Hawkins and Ruth Ware.

Can you escape the darkness within?

Marion Zetland lives with her domineering older brother, John in a decaying Georgian townhouse on the edge of a...

Advance Praise

'Atmospheric, eerie and affecting. Catherine Burns has created a complex and chilling world in which nothing is as it seems. A very clever confident novel, beautifully plotted with multiple twists and turns. I couldn't stop reading it.'                Suellen Dainty

"Burns blurs the line between crime fiction and horror... Deliberate pacing, a claustrophobic setting, and vivid, wildly unsympathetic characters complement the twisted plot and grim conclusion'     Publishers Weekly

'Burns combines a study of a middle-aged woman, a tale of a highly dysfunctional family and slow burn of a mystery, creating a compelling read that's at once highly entertaining and wholly disturbing ... A dark and thrilling debut novel: disturbing, gripping, and hugely impressive'   Luke Marlowe, The Bookbag

‘A compellingly creepy tale of twisted loyalty and dark family secrets, full of a slow-building suspense and a horribly fascinating sense of the macabre.’            TM Logan

'I would advise any nail biters to sit on their hands while reading this book because they will chew right down to the knuckle. By far the creepiest novel I have read in a long time and I mean that in a really good way ... A highly original and intriguing mystery so compelling that I abandoned my own work to finish it'    Liz Nugent

'A powerful book. It delves into the inner and outer workings of the lonely mind. Equal parts creepy and thought-provoking, the characters will leap off the page, whether you want them to or not'              Michelle Berry and Erin Twohey, Hunter Street Books, Peterborough

'Completely up my street. I love a chilling tale that allows you to really get under the skin of the characters. It was compelling and wonderfully dark, choked with suspense and yet leisurely in the telling. I enjoyed it immensely'                Emma Curtis

'A dark exploration of evil in its many forms, this is an uncomfortable and disturbing yet utterly compelling read' -  Susi Holliday

'A dark, compelling story with a few twists and turns that will keep the reader glued to the pages ... I found myself completely engrossed in Marion's disturbing world ... A very strong debut'                Sarah Denzil, author of Saving April

'An insidious, creepy novel, with a slow burn that leads to a horrifying revelation' Lit, 6 Crime Must-reads Coming this September

'A dark, powerful study of troubled minds, laced through with pure dread and horror. A disturbing and addictive read... I loved it!'             KL Slater

'Atmospheric, eerie and affecting. Catherine Burns has created a complex and chilling world in which nothing is as it seems. A very clever confident novel, beautifully plotted with multiple twists...

Available Editions

ISBN 9781785079160
PRICE £0.99 (GBP)

Available on NetGalley

Send to Kindle (EPUB)

Average rating from 90 members

Featured Reviews

A dark and disturbing story about a woman sharing the family home with her brother. A brother who keeps something, or someone in the cellar of their home. I would have loved this book if the ending had been a little less bleak

Was this review helpful?

Great character driven thriller. You spend so much time in Marion's thoughts you are pleased that she starts to stick up for herself. I loved watching the transformation after her brother falls ill. Definitely a slower paced story that focuses on the character change rather than the visitors who play a smaller role. Overall, great book but I was always waiting for something bigger to happen.

Was this review helpful?

Marion’s story is sad, disturbing, horrific and a page-turner. Marion, now in her fifties, and her slightly older brother John remain in their childhood home, insulated from the realities of the world by their deceased parent’s money. The home, once a source of respectability and pride to their mother, now resembles a hoarder’s haven with years of accumulated stuff. Marion has no life, except for her “friends”, her collection of Teddy Bears and her fantasies. Marion can picture herself at the center of all manner of activities though. Having friends, a boyfriend, a husband, and children, yet she always reverts to being in her decaying home and in her childhood bedroom, alone, confused and watching time just go by.
John, an overbearing bully does nothing to assist his sister or allay her fears about the world outside their home. Having a college education and a job he lost under a cloud of suspicion, he returns home and ignores most of what is around him, with the exception of his basement “visitors”. What does John do in the basement and what does Marion know?
Without giving anything away, what I found most intriguing was Marion’s reliability or lack of as a narrator. After reading the final page, I wasn’t convinced that Marion’s version of the truth and her daydreams were accurate. That led me to numerous other possible conclusions and how many authors could write a novel that would make me question all the events and the outcome of the story. Either way, it was a dark tale that kept me up late. I think that the author did a brilliant job by making me question everything.
Thank you, Catherine Burns, Legend Press and Net Galley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. I can’t wait to see what the author does next!

Was this review helpful?

Well written and suspenseful. I really disliked the characters in the book. However, I believe that was intentional so I'm still buying a copy for my library.

Was this review helpful?

I found the blurb of The Visitors to be misleading. I thought I was going to read a certain story, but it ended up being entirely different than I imagined and I loved it! Very creepy!

Was this review helpful?

The Visitors is equally hard to read as it is well-written. Burns's portrait of the interior life of Marion made me feel as complicit in her brother's horrific crimes as she is! The irredeemably disgusting siblings may be heirs to inherited pathologies but in no way do the flashbacks showing their family history elicit any sympathies. A well done novel and hard to put down but way too dark and twisted to enjoy the experience or get any pleasure from reading it. Bleak and grim from beginning to end.

Was this review helpful?

Una vecchia casa in decadenza.
Un uomo di mezza età e sua sorella, timida e sognatrice.
E le ospiti in cantina.

Tutto il resto lo devo tacere: troppo il rischio di svelare qualcosa di questo moderno, inquietantissimo Psycho: un viaggio nell'oscurità del cuore e della mente, nell'assenza di coscienza, nella fuga dalla luce, reale e metaforica.

Was this review helpful?

This novel is full of cruelty. To animals (one of my triggers), to humans and even the casual cruelty that most people associate with honesty and tough love. Marion has grown like mold. Ignored and neglected, in the dark. Her parents were probably psychopaths, chain-smoking, boozing and using people to feed their selfishness. Is it any wonder that Marion and her brother John are completely messed up? John would be the main character in any other novel, but this is Marion's story. She is so insecure and disgusting. She hates herself and she may be evil. She may just be the product of her upbringing. In any case, she is not a good person. She is unlikeable, unlovable and evil. Her life is unbearably sad and lonely. So tell me... how is it that I grew to care so much about her? She is weak and, when burdened with the darkest secret of all - his brother's crimes - she really grows as a person. The story combines the past and the present. We get to really see why Marion is the way she is. The writing is great - the way you get to see their house in your mind's eye. Marion feels like a real person. It's like eating a treat that is making you sick, but you can't stop. One of my favorite reads this year.

Was this review helpful?

This was quite an uncomfortable read for me insofar as I also share an inherited house with an older, slightly domineering brother and, although I don't sleep with them, I also have still have affection for my childhood "teddies", that and the fact that we also had a bit of a domineering, occasionally brow-beating mother in our shared past. Happily, that's where the similarities between us and Marion and John end, although I suspect that I might have snuck a sneaky check of the cellar if we had one, just to be sure!
Going back to Marion and John, cos it's their story not mine and, if you like character driven books starring, shall we just call them, wounded and very dysfunctional characters, you're probably going to love this book. Due to the nature of, shall we just say, John's character and his subsequent actions, it's not an easy read and occasionally graphic but all in keeping with the story being told and not glamourised or glorified for effect or shock tactics.
Marion definitely tugged at my heartstrings and not only because of my personal connections to the character. I really felt for her and all she had to endure at others' hands throughout her life. Especially that meted out by her Jekyll and Hyde like brother. To say she both lives in fear and denial would be a bit of an understatement but her naivety means that she is powerless to affect and change for the good so she carries on living in a world that she has created in her head, ignoring the bad and making up the good. It's only when her brother is temporarily removed from the picture that she really starts to wake up and this book charts this awakening.
It's a very atmospheric book, heavy on the claustrophobic. The twisted nature of the story really lends itself to this and, aside from the short interludes into brighter scenes, the heavy feeling continues pretty much throughout the book. Not one to read if you are looking for something on the light side. It's the sort of book that grabs you from the off and, like a car crash, steals your attention and, forgoing everything won't let you go right up until the end. Well, it did me anyway!
It also got me thinking about the whole nature and nurture thing a bit too. As Marion and John are products of their parents there's a case to be answered about how much was their influence and how much was inherent personality. The differences between Marion and John in the present added lots to my debate but I will leave you to make up your own minds. Suffice to say, even after finishing the book, I was still thinking about it for several days after.
I would definitely add this to my ever growing list of marmite books. Judging from the reviews that are already up, I think it will continue to divide readers' opinions. All good qualities which will make this an excellent book club choice as I am sure it would garner some interesting both during and post reading discussions.
All in all, although an uncomfortable read, I did find it mostly satisfying at the end. My thanks go to the Publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book.

Was this review helpful?

The Visitors

WOW! What a debut !! Absolutely loved this book. It reminded me of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine but on a much darker level. I really didn't want it to end and now I have a serious book hangover. What to read after reading this book? Not a clue. I seriously recommend this book if you love dark enthralling, atmospheric and chilling reads. I would give it more that five stars if I could.

Was this review helpful?

4 stars--I really liked it. Warnings for animal violence, sexual violence, and dark themes.

This book is dark and unsettling, and I greatly enjoyed it. I stayed up until 1:30 on a work night to finish it, and I'm not sorry! While reading this book, I had a deep feeling of unease. You know how some books just make you feel worried or even unclean? That was how I felt reading this. (Which is a good thing while reading this sort of book, in my opinion.)

On the surface, this is a quiet book. There's not a lot of action. But underneath are dark currents, a feeling of menace under the daily lives of an English brother and sister. And what a family! I can't decide if the mother or father was more damaging to their children.

If you like dark books full of secrets and creeping menace, give this a try. Very spooky!

I received this review copy from the publisher on NetGalley. Thanks for the opportunity to read and review; I appreciate it!

Was this review helpful?

What the heck did I just read? Who were those people? John and Marion are brother and sister who are raised by very controlling parents and who end up living together, both unmarried and with enough wealth that neither are forced to seek employment. Quickly the reader can determine that John just isn't a nice person. But I spent the entire book trying to figure Marion out. Was she intellectually challenged? Mentally ill? Just damaged from the continual mental abuse from her parents and John? Or was it all a defense mechanism to protect her from what was going on? This book is a slow burn, like a good Alfred Hitchcock movie, where the fear of what is going to happen propels the reader forward. As a weird side note, I like the other cover better. I feel it does a better job of symbolizing the solid family that is fraying at the edges.

Was this review helpful?

Rating: 4.5/5.0

What a big surprise this book was!! I chose it randomly from NetGalley. I liked the cover and description so decided to give it a go, but I was not expecting to like that much!
This is a debut novel for Catherine Burns and I am so looking forward to read her next books because this story was creepy, chilling, very mysterious and the overall atmosphere is very frightening. Catherine did an amazing job here. It does not feel at all that this is her first novel. I think she has a very bright future as a writer.

This novel gave me the vibes of the famous 1960s movie of Bette Davis & Joan Crawford "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane" except the story is different and it is between a sister (Marion) and her brother (John), both above 50 years old. The characters are very well written, very unique. Many times Marion sounded or acted stupid as was intended by the author. Sometimes the stupidity of Marion made me laugh without throwing my mind out of the creepy atmosphere. The story happens in the present and also we get to know the brother and sister relationship from the past, so this gives us a good idea how they were and how they are right now.

If you like a wicked story, a creepy and chilling one that is believable then this is the one for you. When it is believable it becomes scarier than the fantasy and supernatural stuff.
I loved this novel a lot and I would love to see it one day on screen made into a feature film. Don't miss it. It deserves to be read by everybody and appreciated.

Was this review helpful?

Excellent book. I adored the storyline and the characters. A real page turner. I would this recommend this book.

Was this review helpful?

Psychological thrillers are kind of my thing, as dark as possible being the preference, and so I've come across a great deal of literary psychos across the pages and yet Burns' creations still stand out for their sheer...and I've seriously contemplated the descriptor here and the winner seems to be...nastiness. Strikingly repugnant sibling pair living Grey Garderns style, but with unlimited financial resources and virtually nonexistent morals/ethics. Maybe the two are connected, so much idleness and all that, but it's genuinely terrifying to witness the sort of quiet evil that comes out of appalling laziness, physical and mental. Like two sides of a horridly warped coin and so very ugly in every way...and definitely, definitely unsuitable to receive visitors. Although that's a different matter altogether and you'll find out why as you read this. Burns toys with her readers and throws some curveballs and twists and does a very credible job with this debut, but it is, for all the reasons listed above, a viscerally unpleasant read. Not a likeable character in sight, except for the victims. This has been done in fiction before, of course, not every psychopath/sociopath oozes charm, but they can be still be engaging and fun (recent example of this being the hyper awesome hyperawesome You by Kepnes) or they can be...difficult to read about. This is the instance of the latter. It's still fun in its own way, I mean it's certainly entertaining and compelling, but enjoyable would probably be the wrong adjective. Disturbing, eerie, dark...that's more like it, moral filth, genuine vileness of being described vividly. Read with caution, but do read, if you're into this sort of thing. And then balance it out with something sunny immediately. Thanks Netgalley.

Was this review helpful?

3.5 out of 5 stars

Marion lives with her brother John in their old family home. She is in her fifties and he is a little older. She seems to live under his rule. She grew up afraid of his moods and bending to them. He runs the house and the basement. The basement is locked and she is not supposed to go in there, even though she knows what’s down there, she abides by his rules. Marion lives in her own little world, filled with stuffed animals, and daydreams of a different life. Marion is a very different bird. When John takes ill, she must go into the basement and what happens after that ….

This has to be one of the creepiest books I have read in a long time. This family was so strange and so mentally ill. There were times I felt bad for Marion. She was so bullied by John but then she would do something to someone and I was not feeling the pity anymore. There were parts that seemed to drag so I found myself wanting to flip through but it is a well-written thriller.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and Legends Press in exchange for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

THE VISITORS by author Catherine Burns is creepy with a capital "C."

This tale will have readers questioning the lives of their neighbors and possibly their own family members.

Freaky, eerie, and terrifying are all appropriate adjectives to describe this realistic psychological thriller. THE VISITORS is equal parts thriller and horror. In fact, I believe this book should (and probably will) be turned into a movie. If that happens, I will be at the front of the line.

Catherine Burns has created two of the most horrifyingly realistic characters I have ever encountered.

Marion Zetland is the kind of middle-age woman that is times past would have been labelled a spinster or even a hermit. However, she fails to fit those molds exactly since she doesn't live alone. Her older brother lives in the house as well. Marion's brother John is continuously verbally abusive to her and she seeks solace in a bed full of her teddy bear "friends."

Their family had money once and the siblimgs grew up in the same Georgian townhouse that they still occupy. Once a grand home, the siblings have allowed the house to fall into disrepair. In fact, even Marion, who seems to have stopped growing both physically and emotionally around the age of twelve, realizes that if she ever had a visitor, they would think that she and John were hoarders.  

Though Marion is odd, John is not only strange, he is also creepy and often sadistic toward anyone who crosses him. The worst thing about John is his secret in the cellar. Marion knows very little about what goes on down there. She just knows that is where he spends most of his time and she tries to put it out of her mind.

When John suffers a sudden heart attack, Marion realizes that she will have to go to basement. It is there that she has to face John's secret, and she will be forced to decide what to do about it.

As readers delve deeper into the pysches  of both Marion and John, what they find will astonish, disgust and horrify them.   

As a reader this is a book that really is 'impossible to put down.' I suggest that once you are ready to read this book, that you set aside an entire weekend. Tell the kids to order pizza 'cause Mom is too busy reading. 

I rate THE VISITOR as 5 out of 5 Stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟.

Captivating and astonishingly readable, THE VISITORS is one of the creepiest books I have ever read. There are no police chases or secret service agents trying to save the world in this book. It doesn't need any of that. Instead, it focuses on the characters and does this so well that it deserves it's 5 Star rating.

Was this review helpful?

“The Visitors” by Catherine Burns is a slow-burning suspense novel that tells a morbid tale. Though I found the first half of the book to be fairly slow, the content in the remaining half more than made up for that. The novel dealt with darker themes such as kidnapping, sexual abuse, animal abuse, and murder. This is not a read I would recommend for the faint of heart.

Marion and John are a sister and brother duo who share their lives in their long-time family home. The story is delivered in third-person and focuses on Marion’s point of view. For the first half of the novel, the reader learns some of the backstory of Marion’s family. Marion’s mother is emotionally unavailable, and her father appears to be as twisted as his son is. All of her life, Marion felt like a nothing, a nobody. Neither her family, her peers, nor her educators expected anything impressive of her. Everyone considered her ignorant, so she never learned how to take control of her life. John, on the other hand, was highly intelligent—though cruel—and thought to be someone who would achieve much in life. Ultimately, both of these highly different characters end up in the same place.

Marion knows that something is happening in the cellar. She knows there are “visitors”; she doesn’t know what is happening to them, though. She lives in a world of fear and denial, thinking that if she doesn’t acknowledge the girls in the cellar that their lives won’t affect her own. In the meantime, she copes with her suppressed knowledge by living in a constant daydream in which she imagines various lives for herself based upon the people with whom she comes into contact. Marion’s character is highly sympathetic, and many times the Southerner in me wanted to say, “Bless her heart.”

The more I learned about Marion and John, the more I experienced an unraveling. Rather than there being an unraveling of the characters, I experienced an unraveling of my perception of the characters. The truths I thought I knew were false, and the biases I had developed were unfounded. The author managed to deliver a twisted story that didn’t rely on cheap thrills or heart-pounding suspense; instead, the author slowly gave us pieces of the story until all was revealed at the conclusion. The thrill was subdued and restrained; because of this, the author made me think and analyze the situation more than I would usually do. By the end of the novel, I felt like I had had a true experience while I was reading the pages. My one critique is that the first half of the book felt a bit too slow; however, I understand why the author gave that slow buildup after having finished reading the story. Otherwise, I thought this was a stimulating read, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys dark themes in their reading materials.

Was this review helpful?

“You are the kind of evil that comes from nothing, from neglect and loneliness."

This gritty, morbidly dark tale is told from the point of view of fiftyish spinster Marion Zetland. Her and her older brother John live in the crumbling family home, supported by family money from their deceased father's fine fabrics warehouse.

Marion was a homely, pudgy child and didn't improve as she got older. This story explores the character of Marion at depth and there are hints along the way that her brother is a terrible man.

Marion chose to ignore those hints until they were impossible to overlook, as John falls, breaks a hip, and has a heart attack.

Then Marion has to open her eyes to what has been happening in her home.

This story is not a "feel good" story. In fact it's pretty much the opposite. The author did a fantastic job with developing Marion's character and letting us readers see inside her head.

But I definitely felt like I needed to take a hot shower by the time I reached the end of the book. Creepy, slimy, and overwhelmingly tainted.

I received this book from Legend Press through Net Galley in exchange for my unbiased review.

Was this review helpful?

I loved this book. It's creepy and uncomfortable at times but the story is so well written and from the first page you have to keep on reading. Marion, a spinster in her fifties, has lived all her life in the family home with her bully of a brother John. Both their parents have died and the story flashes back to when they were alive, and how John and Marion have turned into the adults they are now. Marion drifts from day to day looking after John but John has a dark secret, He has 'visitors' to the house that only go to the cellar.
Even though you can guess what it is that John does, you start to wonder how much Marion is involved and what she knows about it.
Brilliant and shocking I can definitely recommend this book.

Was this review helpful?

Hmm. Yes. Well what to say about "The Visitors"

This is a beautifully written, highly disturbing and incredibly edgy debut, one of those that leaves you with a murky feeling right down in the depths of your stomach. Don't be fooled into thinking you'll get a standard psychological thriller, or a horror story, or a crime novel because whilst The Visitors could be described peripherally as all of those things, it is in fact not really any of them. Or wasn't to me at least.

Catherine Burns has written an extremely compelling and genuinely unpredictable character study as we meet Marion, in her 50's, downtrodden and overlooked by the world, her own mother feeding her insecurities both before and after death, who lives with a domineering, overbearing elder brother. Her love for John is one of the most disturbing aspects within the majority of this story - especially as it becomes clear early on just what it is that lurks down in that cellar. Marion for me was a character who garnered both sympathy and random anger as she struggles to find anything in herself to love and relies almost entirely on John for any kind of human contact.

Most of the book flows gently yet achingly horrifically forward as Marion begins slowly but surely to see exactly who she is, who she has become and who she could be. It is often a difficult read, certainly a visceral one, Catherine Burns brings the decaying house, the out of the corner of your eye cellar and Marion herself to disquieting, disconcerting life. An inciting event changes everything and Marion's eventual awakening is chilling and surprisingly impacting.

Overall a really excellent debut. Go in with no expectations and just let this one wash over you. I have no doubt that it will engage you emotionally, whether you come out of the other side loving it or not.


Was this review helpful?

When I think of THE VISITORS by Catherine Burns, here is what comes to mind.

"Aren't We A Ray Of Pitch Black.”

Crossing over to the dark side, deeply disturbing, and ideal for lovers of freaky Halloween, Meet the brother and sister duo.

Marion and John.

John is an Oxford graduate. Domineering. Neither married and in their fifties. A monster.

Marion was only eight years old when she discovered she was plain. She rarely saw other children outside of school. She was fat, people made fun of her. Now she takes orders from her brother.

The parents are now deceased and the brother and sister live in the old dilapidated mansion on Grange Road, a once beautiful Georgian house now cluttered and in decay.

John has visitors in the cellar. Marion has no clue what goes on the cellar and does not want to know. She is in denial. John orders her around and she obeys. He is family and all she has.

She knows there are women visitors. The McDonalds and the Mercedes. John says they are coming so he can teach them things. She knows she hears screams.

The lies we tell ourselves because the truth is too painful to bear. Denial works better. She still hears her mother's voices.

The mention of the cellar made Marion feel as though little spiders were crawling across her skin.

She tells people he uses the cellar for his hobby of building model planes. Marion likes her own pretend and imaginary world.

This is where she feels safe with her books and teddy bears.

However, when John takes sick and has to go to the hospital, Marion is left to take care of THE VISITORS. She has no clue what she will find when she goes down the steps. She is shocked.

Even though disgusted, Marion learns something about herself. Marion comes face to face with the truth. She becomes her own person. She sees her brother is a monster. She may have her own darkness.

Wacky and crazy, dark and disturbing. I am sure the book may appeal to certain readers; however, for me, "not my cup of tea." No interesting characters here. Gloom and doom.

Been reading too many dark and depressive books lately. Think I will switch to some lighter, funnier, and richer stories which speak to the heart. Possibly some inspiring non-fiction.

Thank you to Legend Press and NetGalley for an advanced reading copy. 2.5 Stars

Was this review helpful?

This is going to be one of those books with a love it or don’t audience simply because it’s not the normal kind of spine tingling, fast paced thriller most are used to in this genre. But if you give this a chance you’ll find an interesting literary work that is also unique and thrilling in its own way.

Despite the modern setting of the book there is still this old fashioned gothic feel that adds to the mood and helps heighten the personalities of the characters; siblings Marion and John. Her character work for them actually reminded me a bit of the movie Crimson Peak. A dilapidated mansion full of old, rotting junk becomes its own character with a creepy personality and ghastly secrets. In some ways the house mirrors Marion herself making it doubly intriguing.

Catharine Burns did a wonderful job of providing characters that will transfix your attention and have you thinking about them long after you close the cover. John’s anger boils off the pages and his actions of bringing people into the basement who never leave had me creeped out thanks to watching way too many Criminal Minds episodes. You can also feel how despicable their mother was despite the fact she’s dead. Marion believes so deeply in her own unworthiness thanks to how she was treated her entire life even the reader can’t help but believe the same as we see events unfold through her perspective. Though if you have a heart you’ll also feel sympathy for what she has endured.

This is such a detailed and well planned out character driven novel you’ll get sucked into their lives, the evil, confusion, denial, lies guilt and their journey to the truth – good or bad.

Was this review helpful?

This contemporary gothic psychological thriller chilled me to the bone. The closest reading experience I can compare it to is Cormac McCarthy's Child of God - like that novel, The Visitors brings up troubling questions about the nature of evil and people's capacity to harm. Burns tells the story of spinster Marion who lives with her brother John, and their dark, shared secret lurking in the cellar of their crumbling home - and how they eventually confront that secret. The most striking part of the book for me was the earlier chapters' series of retrospective vignettes, which gave insight into the siblings' childhood. It sets up expectations on the nature of their evil which Burns deftly twists as the story unfolds. Indeed, while suspicions and tensions mount as the novel hurtles toward its conclusion, a certain character's stunning admission and act of cruelty reshape the reader's perspective on this depraved duo's sense of agency, vengeance, and even violence. This book will be disturbing to some readers - it pushed the bounds of what I'm comfortable reading. But the writing was so well-wrought and engrossing that I couldn't take my eyes off the book. If you are a fan of the aforementioned book by McCarthy or Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily," The Visitors will be just right for you.

Was this review helpful?

I found this book to be a case study of 2 introverts who aren't leading conventional lives due to their personalities and circumstances. It was a slow paced book, but all worked together well to bring together a haunting, dark story. Not a traditional thriller, no twists and turns, just subtle hints dropped here and there that at times make your skin crawl. Very much enjoyed it!

Was this review helpful?

This was a group read (hello, Traveling Sisters!) that divided the ladies. I fall into the higher rating camp. It's dark, it's odd, and it'll probably leaving you scratching your head at the end and feeling unsettled. It's also a very slow burn that's more of a character study which takes you inside the head of a very unusual person.

As a child, Marion was bullied by her peers and brushed aside by her parents, who always preferred her brother with his superior intelligence. She could never learn as quickly as anyone else, and also lacked the social skills to make up for it. As an adult, she's a fantasist. She's completely inexperienced with relationships, and spends most of her day imagining how things could be while completely ignoring the fact that things cannot change unless you make them. Now in her fifties, she still resides in the house she grew up in. She never married or even had a boyfriend. She has no close friends. She has only John, her brother... and that's not saying much.

Glimpses into their past tell us about their awful parents, but what could excuse what John keeps in the basement? The ordinarily very passive Marion is relatively content to act like she has no idea what's going on. Don't rock the boat. Don't make John angry. Until the day comes when it's no longer an option.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need a shower to wash the creepy weirdness that is this book off me. I can't do anything about it popping back into my head though...

I received an ARC of this book from Net Galley and Legend Press, thank you! My review is honest and unbiased.

Was this review helpful?

It was the cover of this book that lured me in. I found it rather foreboding. It showed us a shadowy figure, framed by light, standing atop a flight of stairs leading downward. The view is from the bottom of the stairs, and the legend asks, can you escape the darkness within.

As readers, we found ourselves at the bottom of the stairs looking up, not at the top of the stairs looking into the darkness below. That was my hint that this book was different.

Marion Zetland lives with her brother, John, in their big mansion of a house, three floors tall. Even though they live together, Marion is mostly alone, with Mother’s voice in her head for company, and Neil, the first man she loved. This characteristic reminded me of Norman Bates from Psycho.

Marion has always been plain, friendless, unwanted. Since Mother’s nerves were delicate as a glass cobweb, she couldn’t bear to have anyone visit. Nor does Marion have a good relationship with her neighbours, Judith, next door, and old Mr Weinberg opposite. Even though she used to babysit Judith’s daughter, Lydia, for free.

Rejected, Marion chooses to stay in her own world. She lets the house go to seed, saving junk in the hope and fear that she will need it someday. She sleeps in her childhood bedroom in the attic, with her stuffed toys and beloved children’s books around her.

John’s behavior towards Marion sways between treacly-sweet concern over her welfare to violent outbursts over the slightest provocations.

John spends most of his time in the cellar, with the visitors, people she has never seen, but whose laundry she does once a week. People whose screams she has heard. Marion resents them and prefers not to think about them.

Until one day when John suffers a heart attack, followed by a hip fracture, and needs to be hospitalized and she has no option but to go down to the cellar and confront whatever evil lies concealed there.

The synopsis raised unnecessary expectations for me, because the evil in the cellar wasn’t at all what I imagined it to be. Also, events mentioned in the synopsis should have finished at the halfway mark in the book. Instead, by the time John is hospitalized, we are nearly 75% into the book, and there’s not much time to wrap up the whole thing. This book simmers for far too long, and then there’s a sudden increase in the temperature.

The narrative was briefly interspersed with letters from various young girls, hailing from countries where English is not the spoken language, in trouble. They write letters of friendship to a 21-year-old university student called Adrian J Metcalf, who promises them a new life in England. He sends them money and helps them get a passport.

At first, these letters, displayed in italics, seem out of place, and we wonder what they have to do with Marion and John.

Of the characters, both Marion and John were very strong and well drawn, as were their parents. The neighbours, Judith and Mr Weinberg, were well portrayed too.

Well drawn isn’t the same as likable though. As readers, we do not feel the slightest shred of sympathy towards any of them.

Both John and Marion are damaged in their own way. Both are incapable of having healthy relationships with people. It seems as if they willingly succumb to the menace that pervades their lives.

It’s hard to tell which of the parents do more lasting damage to the children. Is it the father or the mother, or the dysfunctional family relationships that bode ill for them?

While we allow ourselves to feel lulled at the thought of Marion’s essential niceness, we slowly become aware that all may not be well with her. It becomes increasingly hard to sympathise with her, increasingly hard to tell whether she is to be relied upon. John is even less likable. He is unpleasant and a pervert.

There was nobody I really liked in this story. At one level, I felt sorry for Marion, the child. She never had her parents’ affection. Her mother looks at her with an expression of vague disappointment, as if she were something that had lost its shape in the wash.

That is why Marion doesn’t mind the idea of being used; surely that was better than being unused, like a forgotten carton of milk going slowly sour in the fridge.

Marion shares with us her memories, but we learn that she also has daydreams, in the same way a starving man might swallow rags to stuff his belly. At first, we believe they are real, but then we see gaps between her versions of events and other people’s reactions to them. That is when we see her recollections for what they are: Like a cutting taken from a plant, a separate version of Neil flourished inside Marion’s head.

As she gets older, she lies on her bed, aimlessly sorting through the contents of her mind as if it were an old sewing box full of tangled threads, foreign pennies, and rusty needles.

The author’s word-picture descriptions were sharp and cutting. She says of Judith, moving with a whirr of sharp angles like some kitchen apparatus set to fast motion. It’s very telling when the author says of her, The thin red smile left her mouth and stuck to the edge of her cup. The coffee she makes is so bitter that Marion’s tongue shriveled like a slug doused with salt.

I felt angry with Judith on behalf of Marion, for treating the latter so snidely, pinching her hard, then gently patting the bruise better. For laughing at Marion’s sentiments and making her feel that a treasure that she had carried around her for years, only to be told it was a piece of trash.

The author makes a strong point about how people can seem mousy and innocuous and yet be so toxic. Their lives filled with unseen rottenness, like jars of half-used jam that have been sitting at the back of the cupboard for so long, you are afraid to unscrew the lid.

In the end, Marion becomes an embodiment of her house. Left unloved for so long, she seems to go to seed herself. The most damning lines are spoken by a medium-cum-spiritualist, who says of her, You are the kind of evil that comes from nothing, from neglect and loneliness. You are like mould that grows in damp, dark places, black dirt gathered in corners, a fatal infection that begins with a speck of dirt in an unwashed wound.

The ending left me with a sense of dread and distaste at how things had turned out. How do things slide, nay, degenerate so badly? The horror of this book is that evil doesn’t always look evil. Sometimes the homeliest face may conceal a terrible evil behind it.

Would Marion have turned out like this if she had been loved? Maybe not. Then again, who knows?

Was this review helpful?

A dark read that kept me reading...

Open the book and enter the world of the twisted siblings Marion and John! Are these two ill, deranged, or just plain evil?? This is a disturbing book on many levels and not for someone looking for an uplifting read! I knew that when I requested to read it and wanted to get out of my comfort level and see how I would feel. I read Jewels review (loved the review) and decided to give it a try. I agree that it had a gothic feel to it and creepy like the Bates Motel as well!

A strong ominous feeling hovered over the book like a dark cloud. The author was detailed in her descriptions of the family and their history including all the "ugliness". It gave me a creepy feeling and apprehension, but not the heart racing, page turning or adrenaline caused from reading a "suspenseful thriller."

This was more of a character driven analysis of the impulsive mind that seems to have no self-control, no remorse and no ability to change the road they have chosen. Or maybe, they choose this road because they are simply evil with twisted minds.

The author had me feeling strongly about the characters, though disturbing and unforgiving for things they had done. It was like watching an episode of 48 Hours or Dateline where I'm transfixed to the story, but utterly repulsed! (If that makes sense!)

Was this review helpful?

Well... this was definitely not what I expected! Thank goodness it turned out pretty awesome! The synopsis is a bit misleading, but you still get a story filled with awkward, revolting, sad and disturbing scenes. I love the main character and her childish thoughts, making excuses and creating situations in her head to justify the actions of herself, but mostly her brother. What a disturbing man....

For a debut novel, excellent. Keeping an eye on her!

Was this review helpful?

Well I’m glad I had a change of mind and decided to read this. I was put off by a review I had read but earlier this week a different review made me want to read it. I feel almost ashamed to say that a lot of the time I felt quite sorry for Marion and her dismal life. I did have cause to change this when as the blurb says ‘questions are asked and secrets unravel’. I find that I can get books mixed up as many storylines are quite similar, however there is no chance of that here as this is strikingly different. What a debut, I can’t wait to see what Catherine Burns does next.

Was this review helpful?

What can I say. I've dithered between 3 stars and 4 all week.

Why did I almost choose 3 stars?
Because this took me a bit of time to adjust to, the story was drawn out a bit. BUT.....
I chose 4 stars because it "had" to be to get the background of the story however, I didn't realise that until later so it settled with me fine in the end.

I thought Marion who lives with an older brother a bit annoying, well......very annoying infact, she loved her teddy bears, loved her food and her TV, reasoned like a little child BUT then......

I had to change it to a 4 star because....
There was a huge reason for her being like this and it all tied in. She no longer became annoying she became someone I felt sorry for, someone I had compassion for [for a little while] as I could reason why she was responding to certain things in such a manner even for her age.

No matter how I felt about some negatives they very soon turned around to be positives.

This author did a fabulous job on me, from just tagging a long with the book wondering what the hell I was reading to BANG, this was good. I then started to quickly turn the pages of this book. I had some idea of what her brother was 'upto' but not the exact reason why or warpness that surrounded this brother and sister.

I'm not wanting to give anything away.

I will say, if you are looking for a heart stopping moment....its soon, real soon.
If you are looking for a fast paced thriller.......not this one. This is one you read, think about, maybe at times think its not going anywhere until you suddenly reach the end and there is that busy main road where your brain has to take everything in at once, its not used to it because its been a nice easy walk so far, then WOOOOO the heat is on.

Its a book I will remember for a few years to come. Not because of its impact but because of its style.

This is definitely going to be a marmite book where people will either love it or hate it or just think "what in the hell have I just read" good, bad or indifferent.

Before you write your review, sit and think on it, sit and think where the author wanted to take you and make wasn't the cellar!!!!

My thanks to LEGEND PRESS for my copy of this superb book


Was this review helpful?

The Visitors: A Dark and Chilling Suspense

by Catherine Burns

Legend Press

General Fiction (Adult) , Mystery & Thrillers

Pub Date 03 Oct 2017

I am reviewing a copy of The Visitors through Legend Press and Netgalley:

Marion Zealand is a timid old spinster who still sleeps with teddy bears, and lives with her older brother John in an old Georgian Townhouse on the seaside, the house is falling apart, and in the basement is a shocking secret John kept in the cellar.

When John has a heart attack Marion must go down to the cellar and face the horrors she has been trying to hide from. As a child John was prone to utbursts when he didn’t get his way, calling his Mother horrible names, and treats his sister horribly, while his parents do nothing about it. As a child he’d make Marion crawl on the floor like a dog, or eat toothpaste until she got sick. He found pleasure in humiliating her.

Marion and John’s parents left them with family money. Despite that she felt that she needed her brother, that she could not make it on her own.

Whereas Marion had never worked John took a jobteaching chemistry at Broadleaf school right after graduating from Oxford. John was let go after a girl named Lauren Hargreaves had accused him of touching her.

Marion often hears what sounds like women screaming but she does her best to convince herself it is nothing.

But there are women in that cellar, and it isn’t only John who has a dark side.

I give The Visitors four out of five stars.

Happy Reading!

Was this review helpful?

Fully formatted review available at:

Fifty-four-year-old Marion and her older brother John have lived together for the last twenty years. Marion is jealous of the time John spends in the cellar with his "visitors." She never sees the mysterious inhabitants, but she doesn't dare go down the dark stairwell to investigate. It's best not to ask too many questions!

The eccentric siblings live in the six-bedroom home they grew up in. The house and its inhabitants are perpetually stuck in time. Their neighbor's home is exactly the same style, but "[seems] to exist about a thousand years in the future." Their mother meticulously maintained the estate when she was alive, but its condition has rapidly deteriorated in the two decades since her death. Every surface is covered in dust and cobwebs and the hallways are littered with broken appliances and old newspapers. The home is filled with so much junk that Marion feels "like a little mouse trying to burrow through it all." Mother would not approve!

The specter of the visitors is always hanging over the story, but most of the book is about Marion and John's unhappy childhood and the disturbing episodes that shaped Marion. After years of mistreatment, Marion is frumpy, unassertive, and emotionally stunted. She's been largely ignored her entire life, but the people who do notice her repeatedly tell her that she's unattractive and unintelligent. Her brother once said that if the human race was more like Marion, "it was unlikely they would have evolved much beyond the level of jellyfish." Her parents had little ambition for her; her temperamental father once said that Marion was "just too sensitive for the big wide world, and more suited to staying at home." Their mother clearly favored John and seemed to resent Marion's existence.There were many finicky rules in their home and Mother was always fussing at them do things in the proper manner. Even decades after Mother's death, Marion continues to hear Mother's passive-aggressive voice berating her from the great beyond. Their mother constantly told them stories of all the horrific things that lurked in the outside world, while willfully ignoring what was going on inside her own house.

Marion is offended when people see her as old because she still feels like a child inside. She's never experienced life outside of her family home. Life has passed her by, but she feels powerless to change her circumstances. She's internalized every rude thing that's been said about her and doesn't think she's capable or deserving of obtaining anything better. She feels trapped, but part of that is self-inflicted. She feels like she needs a physical barrier between her and the outside world. As meek as Marion is, she also has a nasty streak. She has a tendency to blame the victim in the television shows she watches. The harsh judgments give her an intoxicating sense of power that she doesn't usually get to feel in her day-to-day life.

John is arrogant and cruel, but Marion has always idolized him. She always defers to his "superior" judgment and he knows exactly how to manipulate her. Sometimes she stands up to him, but she quickly backs down because she can't withstand the crushing weight of his silent rage. There's no way she can betray her beloved brother. What would happen to her if he left? Plus, Marion has a vivid imagination and isn't confident in her perceptions. She often escapes to a rich fantasy life in her head, where she has a dramatic and meaningful existence that mirrors the Lifetime-esque movies she enjoys watching. Sometimes her daydreams become a little too real, causing her to wonder if she's going mad like her Great Aunt Phyllis. Did she conjure up the cellar dwellers to make her life more exciting? 

If you like character-driven stories that embrace their unrelenting darkness, this book might be for you. It was my ideal type of creepy slow burner: bizarre family dynamics, damaged characters, and a large, decaying house. It's the type of twisted book that makes me think there is something wrong with me for liking it! :D (Perhaps an attraction to dark tales is a side effect of being born near Halloween!) While reading, I felt discomfort, dread, uneasiness, horror, and a little bit of nausea. I hope I'm not being too misleading in saying this, but the general mood and atmosphere reminded me of Faulkner's A Rose for Emily (but really, it's no worse comparison than Room!) I recommend not reading the publisher's description, because it reveals something that happens in the last quarter of the book. I don't think I would've been a fan of this one if I was anticipating anything specific, especially something so deep in the story! Warning for animal lovers: Animals tend to meet terrible fates around this family.

Sometimes Marion imagines what awful things must be happening in the cellar, but she quickly dismisses those unpleasant thoughts. It's much easier not to think about it! Throughout the story we see how easy it can be to turn a blind eye to the obvious, even things inside of ourselves.The characters in this book have no trouble living with their sins. It makes you wonder what secrets the most unassuming people could be hiding and what unseen dangers could be lurking close-by. The Visitors is a chilling tale that's sometimes a little too terrifyingly real.

Was this review helpful?

Heavens above that was bleak. This is some really dark fiction with one of those endings that just makes you scrunch up your nose and leaves a awful taste in your mouth (in the good, intentional way).

The synopsis makes it sound deceptively simple. It isn't. There is a lot more going on here than a dark basement. Can't say much without spoilers but we have some heavy topics being touched upon in here. Nothing is what it seems and no one can be trusted. Love a good unreliable narrator. Some nice flashback/memory scenes too which I felt added an extra layer to the atmosphere of doubt.

Do not pick this up if you want a cosy read and an ending all tied up in a bow. This is Stephen King level nasty. Absolutely brilliant in my opinion, any fan of dark psychological thrillers should pick this up.

Was this review helpful?

This is a sensational, fascinating debut novel which is written so effortlessly and with such sensitivity. It's a slow burning thriller with shocks in abundance. It's dark, disturbing and unsettling but spiced with mystery. Marion and John were born to elderly parents in a large townhouse in a northern seaside town. Now the siblings are in their 50's with their parents long gone and it's obvious they are damaged.. They are unmarried, don't work or socialise, Marion who is not well endowed academically watches TV, lets herself go or talks to her collection of teddies; clearly lonely and left behind. She lives in a state of permanent mental fantasy fluctuating between idyllic and troubled scenario's in her mind. Her thoughts are riotous with the vivid imagination of a child. It's as though she can't let go of her childhood to make the transition into adulthood and repeatedly reverts back to it to stay grounded. But there are dark secrets. Marion's loneliness is so sensitively portrayed that it reminds me of all the lonely single women and widows post-war. Many of them lived alone, with an aged parent or a sibling. Very often they were perceived as eccentric with their plastic macs, headscarves and string bags as they trudged through their empty, meaningless, regimented lives. Some worked in schools, libraries and offices but many of them were quite like Marion and hid from the realities of life. I was raised by elderly parents as an only child and I can relate to a lot of the thoughts and feelings that passed through Marion's mind in her childhood memories. As you read you know there is something brewing; something not right. What is John, her bullying brother doing in that cellar? Making aeroplanes as he claims? Is Marion the timid mouse she is painted? Thank you to Netgalley and Legend Press. I look forward to more thrills from this author. I shall post this on Amazon and on my blog.

Was this review helpful?

Catherine Burn’s debut novel is an interesting novel that I wasn’t really sure about when I started reading as this is a slow burn with a very accomplished ending that leaves you with Wow by the end.

Using a device that jumps back and forth from time and spending time with a woman who doesn’t take responsibility, Burns has developed a character that leave a strong imprint on your brain long after you finish. Strong characters, fantastic descriptions and well constructed story leaves the reader with an urgency to find out where the story is going.

Constructed as a well written mystery thriller with hints of horror sprinkled within, makes this a modern classic that transcends the genres turning it into a story all of its own. It is very hard to not give any details about the book without ruining the story for anyone, but what I can say is that this book really has a pay off that makes this a highly recommended read.

The description of the book really does not do the book justice but it is a difficult to really explain without giving anything away. Reading the book as a mystery thriller, the book slowly reveals itself to the true horror that is found within family secrets, a person’s past and the inner conflicts of a person who refuses to recognise the reality around them.

As I am writing this review, I am finding it very difficult to not divulge the story as there are so many ways to ruin or giving too much away. This is a definite must read and although she has her own style but if forced to compare to another author, I would say Adam Neville. This is a highly recommended read and I would encourage everyone to read, stick with it and be rewarded for a new talent that we will definitely hear more from. I am keen to add her to my author’s list of people to read. There is a real talent here and if her debut is anything to go by, I am eagerly awaiting her next release.

Was this review helpful?

The Visitors is Catherine Burns debut novel. It's a dark crime/horror novel.

Marion lives with her brother in their family home. She's an older lady, never married and still sleeps with her teddy bears. She's childlike in many ways and dominated by her unpleasant older brother, who keeps a secret in the cellar. 

Firstly, it's well written, thoughtful and atmospheric. I found the characters well developed. Marion and John's parents were somewhat cliche but this could have been due to Marion's memories of them. Marion, herself has many of her own secrets. Although, initially it may appear that John and his secret is the main plot line, it is Marion's story that takes the center stage. I read it in a day and a half. It flowed well and I wanted to peel back the secrets and get to the truth. 

This novel makes us question reality, daydreams and memories. Marion lives very much in her head as her reality is dull and at times, frightening. She seems a creature,who hides from the real world. Is evil when you turn a blind eye to things you know are wrong? Can fear and weakness make a person evil? Marion closes her eyes to many things going on around her but sometimes doing nothing is the greatest evil of them all. It's not my usual genre of reading but I enjoyed this book. The ending was refreshingly different. I think this would make a great readers group book as there is plenty of content to discuss. 

4 out 5 stars. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Legend Press for this eArc copy for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

This book is about the relationship of a brother and sister. Marian, a spinster in her fifties lives with her older brother, John. They live in their parents house who died years before and the book flashes back to their sad and disturbing childhood days. Marian lives in an imaginary world and pretends that her brothers visitors to his cellar don’t exist. All this changes when John is taken into hospital and Marian has to see to the visitors.
This is a very disturbing book and a very difficult read. It was good to see how Marian changed as the story progressed and the outcome at the end. It is a very good debut book, captivating and creepy and I look forward to Catherine Burns next book.
Thanks to Net Galley and Legend Press for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book.

Was this review helpful?

always thought I loved books that had a huge "creep" factor. Well, either my taste is changing or now these authors are taking creep to a whole new level (I think the latter is the case!). This was just beyond my comfort zone.

Was this review helpful?

Disturbing, bleak and oh so twisted...but I loved it! Such clever writing from an author that enables a reader to enjoy a dark plot like this.

The story is told from the perspective of Marion, one half of the psychologically damaged brother and sister duo who live together in their old family home. Marion knows about the secrets brother John has stored in the basement, but chooses to live in her imaginary world, blocking out anything bad. But when John has an accident that keeps him in hospital, Marion has to venture to the cellar and confront the truth.

The plot unfolds slowly, and is gripping, even when Marion is completing mundane tasks. The flashbacks to her and John's sad childhood were chilling and I just couldn't wait to see how the story concluded and what Marion would eventually do...and it wasn't what I suspected at all! A really fabulous debut novel.

Was this review helpful?

This is a character driven story which is told via Marion who is a troubled and unlikable middle aged spinster living with her controlling and cruel elder brother

This dark and inventive tale is a slow burner, dark and sinister with a sense of creeping menace and tension

Marion sleeps with teddy bears, hoards and doesn't seem able to cope with normal everyday life.

This is a peculiar read and vet intriguing. . It's a wonderfully dark and suspenseful read and a fabulous debut from a talented author

Was this review helpful?

I finished this a few days ago and had to digest it before I put any thoughts down on paper.

You know that big old house at the end of your street, the old one a bit run down but thats been quite grand at some point. The residents seem quiet and unassuming, a little odd but they keep themselves to themselves so they don't bother anyone - Well, they might be Marian and her brother, John. Oh I do hope not!

This deliciously dark and inventive tale is a slow burner, dark and sinister with a sense of creeping menace and building tension and the odd prickle at the back of your neck when you're reading it.

It is narrated by Marian and right from the start it's obvious she is damaged goods. A middle aged woman who lives with her brother, has few relationships and some very strange habits. She sleeps with a whole bunch of teddy bears, hoards and doesn't seem able to cope with normal everyday life.

I felt quite sorry for her, especially when I found out what her life has been like but she did frustrate me. It's also very clear that she closes her eyes to an awful lot that's going on around her including the very unpleasant things her brother gets up to. She looked up to him when they were little as he was the only person who was ever, sometimes, on her side, he cares for her and where would she be without him? She's never had a job, she knows she is plain and fat and dresses in other peoples cast offs from the charity shop she is a misfit and he is educated, he's worked as a teacher so its hardly surprising he's a bit domineering, she knows she's a ditherer.

She puts up with his strange habits and often brusque and even bullying attitude towards her because he is her older brother after all, and she knows how to placate him and ensure she never gets on the wrong side of his nasty temper, as long as she goes along with his way of doing things and never ever questions things he does, down in the cellar, even when she is sure they can't be right everything will be fine.

Or maybe not

Events are about to take an even more sinister turn because she can't avoid the cellar for ever, even though she finds the thought of what might be down there very very disturbing.

One day she acts a little out of character and realises that maybe things can change after all ....

I was rooting for Marion all through but she surprised me with her about turn, its a dark story and I love darkness and macabre characters and this pair certainly fit the bill. It's immensely readable and kept me turning the pages til late at night.

I was left wanting a tad more detail on some parts of the book which are skimmed over. It leaves a lot to the imagination, perhaps that's for the best?

Scary and dark and well written - just my cup of tea.

Was this review helpful?

Catherine Burns has given us a chilling and disturbing read as her debut and I for one can't wait for her next book.
Marion is a middle aged spinster who lives with her grumpy overbearing older brother john in their large childhood home. John spends most of his time in the cellar whilst Marion lives in a world of her own making surrounded by her teddy bears pretending that she is oblivious to whatever John is doing in the cellar. Until the day John has a heart attack and is taken into hospital and Marion is tasked with taking care of his work.
What happens next will leave you chilled to the bone !!!
A fantastic debut highly recommended.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you Netgalley for the chance to read this. This is all about a brother and sister who live together in a big house, an eccentric couple who have “visitors”. I found this an interesting read although the only word I can think do describe the whole book is weird! It’s seriously weird, and I didn’t realise some of what was happening until very close to the end! A good read and would recommend to anyone!

Was this review helpful?

This book is a dark, disturbing and sad tale about Marion and John.
They`re siblings and live together.
They neither love or hate each other.
They`re egoistic and have `dark cravings` come to life...

It´s a smooth and calm read, but it´s impossible to stop reading untill you`ve finished the book.
The story is told from Marion`s POV and it`s like a emotional roller-coaster.

Was this review helpful?

How can you feel empathy with such a weirdo? I found myself feeling so sorry for Marion and the life she was forced into by her family but boy was there a dark side to her...............definitely a book for your reading list I don’t want to say to much and spoiler the intrigue............just read it you won’t be disappointed.

Was this review helpful?

Creepy, weird, not everyone's cuppa, but I couldn't put it down.

If you look for a different kind of mystery, if you enjoy a character driven plot, can cope with an uncomfortable feeling and tolerate some disturbing graphical scenes, then you shouldn't miss it.

A very unique debut novel by an extremely talented writer. I am looking forward to reading more by Catherine Burns.

Was this review helpful?

Marion and her brother John live in a run-down Georgian house in a seaside town. They have lived there all their lives and it has just been the pair of them since their parents died.

John had been a brilliant scholar and had taught in a prestigious prep school under a cloud. Since then he seemed to have spent most of his time down in the cellar with his visitors- visitors that never came up to the main part of the house.

Marion was a fifty something spinster, gaining comfort from her collection of soft toys. She has learning difficulties and struggled at school and at home. Bullied by all around her, she is nervy and confused.

When John has a heart attack & is hospitalised Marion is forced down the cellar and discovers John's secret. We also discover more about Marion.

This is a slow moving book. It is well written, conveying the grimy, seedy life going on in the house so well you feel like you need a shower after reading it. It isn't book I can say I enjoyed, but I needed to read it to the end!

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for letting me read & review this book.

Was this review helpful?

Talk about disfunctional familiys! My god what a totally creepy and horrifying book this is, it’s about a middle aged brother and sister Marion and John who live in an old Georgian house. Marion is childlike in her ways and thinking (the story is told from her point of view) and John is just an absolute horror who bully’s and intimidates her.

He’s got a strange hobby too one of which Marion does her best to ignore! Until he dies and she has to face up to what’s happened to all those “visitors” her brother has brought home. This is when she comes into her own I think personally and we see what she’s made of so to speak!

A total house of horror and massive creep fest....I loved it haha

Was this review helpful?

Had I written this review as soon as I finished “The Visitors,” it would have been three stars. I’m glad I waited, because this is the sort of book that sticks with you and chills you to the bone whenever you think about it.

It isn’t fast-paced, and honestly some of the scariest moments come when you identify with the loneliness of Marion. Quite a bit of it is simply a slice of life type story with bits of the macabre tossed in. I really don’t want to spoil anything. If you are up for a slow-burn horror/ thriller, this is highly recommended.

Caution: There are some animal deaths, though none particularly graphic.

Was this review helpful?

I like a book that makes me feel like i need shower after it, a really grimy read, and thats what this book did. My initial thoughts when reading the book description had been, A book about a brother and sister who live together, how bad can that be? Well it was that bad (in a good way) that i spent the whole weekend ignoring my children and life in general to find out how the story would end.
Recommended to all my friends and will stay with me for awhile to come.

Was this review helpful?

Readers who liked this book also liked: