Let Him In
by William Friend
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Pub Date 03 Oct 2023 | Archive Date 06 Oct 2023
“Great fun...the suspense slips its slow coils around you.” —Daily Mail
William Friend’s haunting debut Let Him In is a creeping, gothic psychological suspense about a young, newly widowed father struggling to raise twin daughters obsessed with an imaginary friend.
“Daddy, there’s a man in our room...”
Alfie wakes one night to find his twin daughters at the foot of his bed, claiming there’s a shadowy figure in their bedroom. When no such thing can be found, he assumes the girls had a nightmare.
He isn’t surprised that they’re troubled. Grief has made its home at Hart House: nine months ago, the twins’ mother Pippa died unexpectedly, leaving Alfie to raise them alone. And now, when the girls mention a new imaginary friend, it seems like a harmless coping mechanism. But the situation quickly develops into something more insidious. The girls set an extra place for him at the table. They whisper to him. They say he’s going to take them away…
Alfie calls upon Julia—Pippa’s sister and a psychiatrist—to oust the malignant tenant from their lives. But as Alfie himself is haunted by visions and someone watches him at night, he begins to question the true character of the force that has poisoned his daughters’ minds, with dark and violent consequences.
Whatever this “friend” is, he doesn’t want to leave. Alfie will have to confront his own shameful secrets, the dark past of Hart House, and even the bounds of reality—or risk taking part in an unspeakable tragedy.
"Fans of literary horror will be absolutely captivated...I found it almost impossible to put down."—Horror Magazine
"Mercurial, heartbreaking, and almost unbearably creepy, Let Him In is spider legs across your neck, a snake caressing your ankles, a shadow outside your bedroom at midnight. If you like the twisting, perspective-based horrors of Catriona Ward or Shirley Jackson, you'll definitely want to accept this book's invitation."
—Nat Cassidy, author of Mary: An Awakening of Terror and Nestlings
“The best writing is neither plot-nor character-driven, but propelled by emotion, and emotions flow fast and deep in William Friend’s Let Him In. A haunting tale about generations of loss within a single, sinister house, Friend’s exceptional debut expertly intertwines the real and the imaginary with chilling effect. The writing itself is sublime, forcing the reader not to skip a single word, even as those words slowly crystalize into an ever-increasing sense of dread. This is an emotionally raw, heart-wrenching story that will stay with me for quite some time.”
—Carter Wilson, USA Today bestselling author of Mister Tender’s Girl
“Let Him In is a feast of a novel. It takes hold in the first pages and builds into something wonderful and terrible that refuses to let go even after you close the book. This is one you won't want to miss.”
—Darcy Coates, USA Today bestselling author of The Haunting of Ashburn House
Available on NetGalley
The well-known phrase 'don't judge a book by its cover' applies in various domains, but sometimes a cover that catches your eye can conceal a valuable gem inside, as I discovered with this book.
The cover of the book, which seems like a Rorschach Test, captivated me from the outset. At first glance, I perceived a skull, but upon closer inspection, I discerned that it could have other meanings, which I will keep undisclosed to avoid influencing readers.
Moving beyond the cover, I found the text itself to be exceptional. The sentences and phrases were delightful and effectively punctuated to amplify the sinister atmosphere permeating the entire book.
The text made such a profound impact on me that I had difficulty sleeping, and I felt as though I wasn't alone in the room while reading it, heightening my overall experience.
The author has crafted each of the 18 chapters exceptionally well, with each chapter concluding on a cliffhanger that left me craving more. What I found most appealing was the author's ability to start strong, build up the tension, settle into a lull, and then catch me off guard with another frightening twist.
The author skillfully manipulates both the characters' and readers' minds, leaving them in a state of constant anticipation. Just when you believe you have the story figured out, the author throws a curveball that takes you by surprise.
The book features several passages that I thoroughly enjoyed, particularly in terms of the author's choice of words and phrasing. In just a few sentences, the author conveys an immense sense of despair and more.
I am hard-pressed to find anything negative to say about this book as it truly is exceptional. There were a few words that I didn't comprehend immediately and had to look up, but that is solely a reflection of my own language proficiency.
Overall, the book was an emotional rollercoaster that evoked feelings I never thought possible. Without a doubt, I would rate it a perfect 10.
I already published the review on Goodreads and I will be posting it on my blog, Facebook page and Instagram on Friday 31st of March
The creep factor was off the charts on this one - I couldn't read it at night 🙃
Grieving widow with young twin girls.. young twin girls who develop an imaginary friend, Black Mamba - a shape shifting man who takes the appearance of a black mamba, a fish, a black bear, a giant crow, a black cat - who takes them on adventures and instigates some nasty behavior.
This was a riot of a read.
I received a copy of Let Him In from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I was interested in this book just based on the amazing cover, and I was glad that the book did not disappoint. I sped through this spooky novel. All the old British horror tropes were there - creepy twins, checked-out widower dad, old house, mysterious apparitions, weird cults and eccentric old ladies. It could have been cliche, but I found the writing subtle and beautiful, which helped make these tropes seem new. The atmosphere of the novel sets the tone throughout. I found this book to be just as much an exploration of grief as a horror story.
Reading Let Him In felt like I was slowly revealing a painting, and every inch yielded new and more horrifying clues. A perfect haunted house book for spooky season!
This is a beautifully written slow burn horror that entrances you and leaves you wondering. If you like tidy books that give you all of the answers, this is not the book for you. The twins begin to bring <b>him</b> up several months after the death of their mother. Alfie was already struggling to cope with losing the woman he loves and being unprepared to raise the girls on his own. He once again calls on their aunt, a psychiatrist, for help and this time she agrees to speak with the twins and finds disturbing parallels to the past. Is he an imaginary friend? Or is he something else...something real...something malevolent? Is it a manifestation of grief, loss, and fear of how things are changing in their lives? Is it related to the house with it's dark past that survived an attempt to destroy it? Is it related to the family's religious upbringing with beliefs in a shadowy realm and demons? Secrets are revealed, the past is explored, and lines are crossed before he is finally gone for good. Or is he?
Just when you thought you may have figured out the situation with the twins and there "friend" boom something comes out of left field and has you rethinking everything that you had previously read. I overall loved this book as it kept me on my feet the whole time and kept me guessing with each page I turned. I highly recommend you read this book and let William take you on a journey as only he can in this book.
Perfectly creepy in what is said and what happens, as well as what isn't. These people are struggling in different ways, all based around the sudden death of one loved one. Friend deftly weaves in family history, relationship dynamics, grief, and past trauma with the very real possibility that the MC's daughters (or he himself) are on a path of destruction. The sense that he is barreling towards an unraveling is palpable.
Great premise, storytelling, and ending. And who can resist a creepy set of twins?
Thank you, Netgalley, Poisoned Pen Press, and William Friend, for providing me with the ARC (Advance Reader's Copy) of this book.
I must say that I absolutely loved reading this book and have been wholeheartedly recommending it to everyone in my circle. The story revolves around a grieving family struggling to come to terms with a recent death and their efforts to move on. The way the characters of the twin daughters, the husband, the sister, and the mother are portrayed feels incredibly believable and relatable.
The supernatural aspect of the book is one of the most realistic portrayals I have encountered in any novel. It beautifully treads the fine line between reality and fantasy, as often happens in real life when one person's supernatural experience may be interpreted as mere fantasy by someone else. The gradual unfolding of events throughout the book keeps the tension high, and you feel as if you are holding a ticking time bomb with each turn of the page.
The sense of helplessness that permeates the narrative is deeply affecting, particularly through the eyes of Alfie, who grapples with both the challenges of raising his twin daughters and the profound loss of his wife. Complicating matters further is the presence of a fictional supernatural character, the enigmatic "Black Mamba," invented by his daughters.
What works -
- the vividly depicted house and the intricacies of family dynamics.
- The slow-burning supernatural incidents add an air of suspense and intrigue, while the exploration of the house's mythology adds depth and richness to the narrative
- The storytelling is masterfully controlled, ensuring that readers remain engrossed throughout.
What doesn't work -
- I must admit that the story does become slightly repetitive at times, particularly during dream sequences that hold significant meaning initially but lose some impact due to their recurrence.
- I couldn't help but yearn for a more explosive and climactic finale. A little more "BANG" at the resolution could have provided a truly unforgettable crescendo to an already remarkable narrative.
Highly recommend reading this book. It will stay inside for a long time.
This was a super creepy, and at times frightening, book. I loved every single page as I tried to figure out exactly what was going on and why. If you want a story that's going to make you pull the covers tightly over your head to keep the bad things out, look no further.