The Night Side

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Pub Date Dec 05 2023 | Archive Date Jun 30 2024

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A spine-tingling psychological thriller bursting with gasp-worthy revelations. When her mother goes missing, a woman returns to her childhood home after twenty years. But is she walking into a trap?

Ruby had to get away. Get away from her mother – a phoney medium and psychic scammer. Get away from her lies, her manipulation, her twisted desire to ruin people’s lives.

So, at eighteen, Ruby left her home in Stoneybrook, Montana and vowed she’d never return.

Now, twenty years later, she’s back.

Her mother is missing. Presumed dead. But Ruby isn’t so sure. Has Ida saved her final, darkest scheme for her own daughter? The jaw-dropping truth will shake Ruby to her core . . .


“A vividly atmospheric and frightening thriller”
CAROLE JOHNSTONE, bestselling author of Mirrorland

“A spine-tingling read that will haunt you long afterward”
The Big Thrill

“Genre fans will relish the head-spinning twists and white-knuckle suspense in this compelling, suspenseful, gothic-style mystery”

A spine-tingling psychological thriller bursting with gasp-worthy revelations. When her mother goes missing, a woman returns to her childhood home after twenty years. But is she walking into...

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Featured Reviews

"Twenty years of secrets. One deadly truth." This is the gripping premise of "The Night Side" by Laurie Anne Forest, a psychological thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.

The story revolves around Ruby Carlson, who fled her manipulative and fraudulent mother, Ida, two decades ago, vowing never to return to her hometown of Stoneybrook, Montana. However, when Ida goes missing and is presumed dead, Ruby is compelled to return home to settle her mother's affairs. What follows is a riveting tale of mystery and intrigue as Ruby unravels a web of lies and secrets.

Laurie Anne Forest masterfully weaves a narrative filled with chilling memories, complex characters, and unexpected twists.

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M.M. DeLuca shines a laser sharp light on the disturbing reality of psychic scamming in her suspenseful novel, THE NIGHT SIDE.
Ruby Carlson left her mother Ida, a cunning con-artist, twenty years ago after she drew an unwilling Ruby into her schemes. Now Ida is missing, presumed dead and Ruby must return to to her childhood home in Montana to settle her affairs. But all is not as it seems. Is Ida really dead, or is this another one of her schemes to draw Ruby home?
The story is told in dual timelines, past and present, as Ruby unravels a twisted web of secrets to find the truth about her mother, and herself.
A thrilling page turner with a richly evoked setting and an eerie, suspenseful atmosphere that kept me reading on until the unexpected ending.

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It’s been twenty years since Ruby left Stoneybrook, Montana, having vowed to never return. Throughout her childhood, her manipulative mother Ida forced her to join her schemes, exploiting Ruby to ravage the local community with false mediumship and psychic scams. With her mother missing and presumed dead, she's forced to return to settle her affairs. However, Ruby has her doubts - what really happened to Ida?

The Night Side by M.M. DeLuca is a mystery thriller that focuses on the life of thirty-something Ruby.

On receiving a call from her old flame, Aidan, she must go home to settle her presumed dead mother's affairs.

It's been twenty years since Ruby Carlson fled Stoneybrook, Montana, and she vowed to never return.

A teenage runaway, she has lived an idyllic life in England since she was eighteen and enjoys a successful career as an archaeologist.

Now she's back in a place brimming with disturbing memories and horrific secrets. Here, she must uncover the truth, what really happened to Ida?

The novel is told from Ruby's perspective throughout with dual timelines, each chapter offering either a present or past account. This allows the reader to understand the extent of Ida's manipulation, coercion and control of Ruby in her childhood and the damage it's caused in adulthood.

Essentially, Ruby must now unravel the truth amidst half-truths, whispers, lies and secrets. While doing so, she also hopes to rekindle her bond with Aidan and then get as far away from Stoneybrook as possible.

DeLuca knows how to keep the reader interested, masterfully revealing snippets of information throughout to guide us through the mystery and keep us hooked.

As we reflect on the chapters set in the past, we see that ultimately, Ruby's life was very lonely. Her only childhood joy was her friendship and courtship with Aidan. Thankfully, DeLuca weaves a blossoming and charming relationship between them in their youth.

As a teenager and spurred on by Aidan, we see Ruby's confidence develop. Eventually, rebelling leads to her ultimate goal, freedom.

However, on her return to Montana in the present, we can almost sympathise with the community in Stoneybrook. Understandably, feelings haven't changed toward Ruby and her mother. Ostracised by most, their past contempt is a feeling Ruby remembers all too well.

In turn, this treatment also seems unfair. Essentially, Ida forced a young Ruby into her fraudulent schemes, exploiting her 'gift' to ravage the local community, especially those she perceived as vulnerable. DeLuca creates a myriad of complex relationships due to this, which has the reader questioning who is right and wrong.

Despite this disdain, Ruby seemingly had little choice as a child, controlled by the manipulative and narcissistic, Ida. She must navigate these hostile reactions, unlock difficult memories and deal with current emotions, all charging at full speed. In doing so, a realistic character is crafted, imperfect and complex. One we root for, hoping she gets the answers she seeks.

In order for Ruby to overcome her past she must fully embrace her present situation. She must solve the mystery and untangle her trauma if she hopes to enjoy true freedom in the future.

Overall, The Night Side is a thrilling read. It offers complex characters, well-illustrated environments and twists aplenty throughout its well-paced narrative.

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The Night Side follows Ruby Carlson who must return to her childhood home following her con-artist mother going missing and now presumed dead. However is her mother, Ida, really dead or is something else happening? I loved reading through the dual timelines and seeing all the secrets unfold through plenty of twists. I also thought M.M. DeLuca created a greatly suspenseful and thrilling atmosphere that made me never want to put this down. I really recommend to any mystery thriller lovers.

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With the nights getting colder and Autumn upon us, it's time to delve into the darker mysteries and DeLuca (Author) has just that with The Night Side. I actually forgot what this was about before picking it up, so essentially went in blind and I'm glad I did.

This story is told in almost two time lines from the point of view of Ruby. We know that Ruby has no love for her mother, the woman who manipulated poor Ruby for years making her life a pure hell. Step forward twenty years and we find Ruby escaped (Although we don't find out how yet) and has to return to the town of Stoneybrook as her mother is missing, if not dead. The one place Ruby swore she would never return to and especially not for Ida her mother.

This tale is a mystery, thriller. There is some romance, a hint of 'skeptical' paranormal and a lot of lies. I love books where you have to question everything and everyone. I certainly felt that about Stoneybrook! There are a fair few characters you'll meet along the way. Most strongly portrayed and fairly interesting. I felt like I could sense each one of them well. This book is rich in colour and I liked the setting of the age old town, especially when we were back in Ruby's childhood.

I read this over 24 hours in two sittings and thoroughly enjoyed it. Right up until the end I was still guessing about some things and loved the conclusion. DeLuca (Author) really reeled me in with this one and I was impressed I didn't work everything out! A solid 4 stars, I will be looking at more titles by the author in the future!

Thank you to NetGalley and Severn House for this ARC in exchange of an honest review.

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The Night Side brings a tinge of the supernatural to a twisty thriller about Ruby Carlson, who left home and an abusive mother behind only to return two decades later when her mother goes missing under suspicious circumstances. The small town Montana setting feels just as claustrophobic as the house Ruby grew up in, full of small minds and desperation, and is beautifully portrayed both in the present and in scattered flashbacks to Ruby's strange youth.

Although I enjoyed reading it, The Night Side left me feeling curiously like it should have been a movie instead - the writing has a cinematic quality to it, all set pieces and big personalities, and there are some things in the plot that hit a bit wacky in prose, but would be much easier to pull off as a performance than a paragraph. The climax felt a bit overwrought as happens with a bunch of people freaking out in a room, but again I could picture it so perfectly - someone needs to slide this book on over to Netflix, it could really work!

I'm a tough sell too on the trope of two people falling in love as teenagers and then just literally never getting over it or moving on to a new love, but this book did a better job than most on selling me on the chemistry between the romantic leads. I was pulling for them by the end, although it would have been easy to just have one of them as a divorcée or something (after twenty years!!) to make them both seem less like weirdos. And although it's touched on later in the book a little bit, I was a little disappointed that Ruby's life as (and even path to becoming) an archaeologist wasn't a bigger part of the book - it's such a specific career choice, and one you need such dedication to pursue, that I was surprised it didn't figure in more. It's a really cool and unusual job for an MC to have in this genre, it felt like a missed opportunity to work it in more!

Overall this was a pleasant read with some surprising twists, I'd recommend it as an unusual take on the thriller genre.

My thanks to Severn House and NetGalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Many thanks to NetGalley and Severn House for the e-ARC in exchange for my honest review.

I found myself looking for my Kindle to read this any spare moment I had. It pulled me in and had so much going on! I really enjoyed this psychological, suspenseful, mystery!

Ruby Carlson got out and fled to England 20 years ago. Now she is back. She left behind her teenage boyfriend, Aiden, which was the hardest thing to do but necessary to escape Ruby's evil and dysfunctional "mom", Ida. Now Ruby is back in Stoneybrook, Montana. She was called home to uncover what happened to Ida who has been missing under suspicious circumstance. Ruby had every right to leave as Ida was a manipulative grifter living off the pain and mystery of other town folk using her "psychic" abilities. Is Ida really dead? Will Ruby get sucked back into StoneyBrook and the path of destruction left by Ida? Will Ruby leave?

Great characters, well developed plot and such a good story! I was hooked in the first chapter.

Highly recommend!!

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Ruby had returned home after 20+ years to try and find if her mother is actually missing/ dead whatever has happened to her. She was a scammer and pseudo psychic who conned people out of money and their lives. And along the way Ruby discovers secrets from her own life

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Ida, scammer extraordinaire, is missing. Ruby, her daughter, and one-time coerced associate, returns to her hometown to lay the ghosts of their past. I use the word ‘ghosts’ advisedly because some of the characters might not be as corporeal as the rest. Ida has always been a grifter, running small cons and scamming strangers, neighbours, friends, and family. From an early age Ruby has been a tool in some of these deceptions but, from the age of about ten she is used as a sort of medium, sort of fortune teller, apparently going into a trance and reporting messages from beyond. She is considered weird by her peers so has only one real friend, Aidan, who becomes her anchor to reality and proper boyfriend as they become teenagers. Ida’s scam meanwhile has matured into a form of emotional blackmail; clients who have lost children, especially babies, are persuaded that Ruby can channel their lost child for a fee, a large fee, a recurrent fee. Once she reaches eighteen, an adult and so free from her mother, Ruby escapes to England, cutting all ties, where she becomes a well-respected archaeologist with an amazing ability to find important relics. After twenty years her cosy world is disrupted by a message from Aidan telling her that her mother is believed to have drowned herself, and that she need to come back to sort out her affairs. It will be a chance for her to reconnect with her first, and enduring, love, but also a return to the small Montana town where everyone know everybody, and all of them hated Ida and haven’t forgotten Ruby’s role.
The story is told entirely from Ruby’s point of view, in alternating chapters; present day in the present tense and events from the past in the past tense. This works extremely well, as the reader learns the background which explains each new incident as it occurs. The possibility that Ruby is really psychic is dangled at intervals, never stated as such but rather presented as “through a glass, darkly”. The plot is well formed and rolls along at a fair pace until the dénouement. The latter is a set piece which unfurls at almost break-neck speed, the speed helping, I think, to disguise the fact that the logistics are a bit off. Overall it’s a very good read.
I would like to thank NetGalley, the publishers and the author for providing me with a draft proof copy for the purpose of this review.

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"Twenty years of secrets. One deadly truth.

When Ruby Carlson was eighteen, she ran away from her home in Stoneybrook, Montana, and vowed she'd never return. Never return to life under the control of her manipulative mother, Ida, a self-styled medium and psychic scammer who made a career out of ruining people's lives. Never return to the small town where enemies lurk at every turn.

But now, twenty years later, Ruby is back. Her mother is missing, presumed dead, and Ruby reluctantly returns to a home filled with chilling memories to settle Ida's affairs. Did she really commit suicide by drowning, or is this another dark scheme? Ruby thought she knew everything about her mother, but finds herself unraveling a web of lies and secrets to reveal a story more twisted than anyone could have imagined..."

I mean, I need to read this just to find out how someone who committed suicide by drowning is missing, presumed dead!

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At the age of eighteen, Ruby Carlson fled her hometown desperate to leave her former life and Mother, a manipulative con-artist, behind. Twenty years later, Ruby reluctantly returns home after receiving news her Mother, Ida, is missing and presumed dead, to settle her affairs. However, Ruby is suspicious about whether Ida is really dead or if this is just another scheme. As she works to help solve the mystery behind Ida’s disappearance, she uncovers truths more sinister than she’d ever imagined.

The Night Side was a fantastic read. It was fast-paced, captivating and kept me guessing all the way through. Just when I thought I’d figured things out, another twist came out of left field and absolutely floored me. The book was told from the perspective of Ruby, whom I couldn’t help but love and cheer for. I also really liked the usage of a dual past and present timeline. It provided great insight into Ruby’s upbringing and her mother’s evolution into a con artist that bankrupted countless families. My only complaint was that the beginning was slightly confusing as the author hinted at things without providing context or explanation. Overall, I highly recommend picking up this book once it’s released!

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I thoroughly enjoyed this dark, slow burning novel that brims with atmosphere. The issue of psychic scamming is an interesting one to tackle in a suspense novel and I loved the twists and turns in the plot. Great character development and a detailed setting making this an incredible page turner.

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I liked this book but I just couldn't get into the story. I didn't like the writing style but overall the story was good.

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Told from the perspective of Ruby in dual timelines this book really gripped me. I read this in one evening. A fantastic book with great characters, not all of them likeable but that’s what makes this book so good.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for the ARC in return for my honest and unbiased opinion.

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M.M. DeLuca throws the reader into a twisted story of abuse, scams, and a young girls fight to escape the insanity that her mother inflicts upon her. Alternating timelines between present day and Ruby’s childhood, we are shown the horrors she was subjected to alongside trying to understand the mystery of her mother’s disappearance.
This book did a great job of maintaining my interest, with short chapters, frequent twists, and great descriptive writing.
This story did require me to suspend my disbelief a few times but overall was an enjoyable experience and I will be picking up more from this author in the future.

Thankyou to Severn House and Netgalley for the ARC copy in exchange for an honest review!

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The night side by M.M. DeLuca.
Ruby thought she had escaped her mother who was a
self-styled medium and psychic scammer. But after 20 years she is to go back after her is said to be missing presumed dead. But is she. Ruby thought she knew all her mothers secrets. But the worst is yet to come.
I really enjoyed this book. Couldn't put it down. I loved the cover. It goes from past to present. I did like Ruby and Aiden. I never expected that to happen. Grippingandtwistyandtense. 5*.

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I want to thank Severn House and Net Galley for my free art copy please forgive any mistakes as I am blind and dictate my review. Ruby fled her home town years ago despite leaving behind the love of her life Aiden ever since she can remember her mom either was abusive except for those times she needed ruby to be in on a scam she also had Ruby pretending to be clairvoyant in charging people money to get rid of the ghost that haunts in their homes but when she wanted to offer up Ruby to an old man just to get to his money this is when Ruby knew she had to save herself and leave town. It’s now years later she is an archaeologist and living in England when she gets the call that Ida is dead although Ruby is dreading going back because she knows this could very well be another one of Ida scams she goes back anyway before it’s over Ruby will have answers to questions she didn’t even know she needed to ask her family tree will look much different and she will see Ida in a whole new light and not a better one. This was a really good book and even though there were a few things I questioned throughout the book I still enjoyed it very much. The surprises start early on and do not let up until the book is over and despite the dysfunction I thought it ended with a happy ending and I’m not giving any key plot points away by saying that but for those who love a good thriller with a great happy ending you definitely enjoyed the book. Ida is a mess and ruby is definitely someone the reader will want to root for.

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Ruby Carlson lives in the Durham area of England. She works on archeologist digs around the country. She has a good reputation for locating buried treasure. She is nearly forty years of age. Twenty years ago she fled her homeland, Stoneybrook in Montana, America.
Her mother Ida had made her an accomplice in her clairvoyant scams The problem for Ruby is she could often get flashes of knowledge from the people, as though she could really see into their lives. Ida would persuade neighbours to part with their hard earned cash. Eventually Ruby takes her chance in dramatic fashion and leaves Ida and her old life behind, including her lover Aiden.
Now she has been contacted by the Montana authorities. Ida had been arrested but she then vanished and is believed dead! They need Ruby to return to help them locate her mother and sell the house that was their home.
Ruby mainly wants to see Aiden again now a local detective, to try and explain her disappearance. However she is wary that Ida's suicide is another scam. When she is home she feels the locals animosity towards both her and Ida.
Ruby realises that a young girl Marion, who was deformed at birth, has been groomed by Ida to take over Ruby's role.
Ruby wonders if coming back has been a good idea. Aiden has been taken off Ida's case. and the police seem to be suspiious of Ruby. Also Ida's presence seems to be all around her.
The story is told both in the present day and goes back twenty years when the eighteen year old Ruby was planning to escape.
The author maintains the suspense and keeps you reading to find out what happens. Recommended.

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The Night Side by M.M. DeLuca was one intriguing mystery I couldn’t put down.
This is my first time reading this authors work and now it’s on my list to read her backlist.
The storyline was brilliantly written and kept me hooked the whole way through.
With her excellent writing and the well-drawn characters, and all the details that come with a cleverly thought out plot made this story so entertaining.
The descriptive language was captivating and intriguing, meaning I couldn't put the book down.
The author builds tension that grows throughout the book and you find yourself unable to stop reading.

I would like to thank NetGalley and Severn House for the opportunity to read this ahead of its publication date in return for my honest review.

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20 years ago, Ruby Carlson ran away from home to escape her abusive mother who roped her into scamming people out of their livelihoods. Now the notice of her mother‘s presumed suicide draws Ruby back to Montana, to the town she vowed never to set foot in again. But once there, Ruby is quickly reminded that you can never truly leave your past behind.

This was a solid, twisted thriller with a touch of the supernatural (but nothing crazy, like I was afraid it might be after the first chapter). There are some minor inconsistencies - the past storyline skips from the 1990s to the 2000s and back again even though the story is told chronologically; certainly, online shopping wasn‘t much of a thing yet at the beginning of the 21st century; and while Ruby doesn‘t drive her boyfriend to the hospital because she doesn‘t have a license, she has no qualms about driving her passed-out mother home in the next flashback, which takes place one day later - but overall, the story weaves seamlessly between Ruby‘s childhood until she finally left Montana behind and the present day.

My main criticism stems from the stereotypical descriptions of rather useless and annoying law enforcement (for whom DNA results nevertheless take no time at all and who are willing to believe that someone who was shot point-blank in the face not only bleeds out slowly, but also fired off a shot of their own after being mortally wounded), and completely unethical psychiatrists (who let their patient‘s daughter sit in on a hypnosis session, and are also in a relationship with a member of law enforcement). Even more annoying is present-day Ruby, who cannot make up her mind about whether to stay in Montana or leave, going back and forth so much it had me dizzy, and who, despite presumable being an accomplished, successful woman, lets her childhood crush treat her like crap for most of the book. Finally, the showdown at the end was ridiculously over the top (which probably bugged me the most - not sure what that says about my priorities).

Despite these flaws, this was an enjoyable read that kept me hooked.

Thank you to NetGalley and Severn House for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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This one would get a 5 star, if it didn't take me forever to get into it. I would read a chapter at a time and I would feel like it was never going to get to the good part. All of a sudden, one night I was lying in bed reading and bam, there it was. It has mystery, romance and thrills. Ruby leaving the small town she was from and then having to come back to face the past was part of what kept me reading. Besides the slow start, I would read more from this author.

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I found myself entangled in a web of mystery and suspense that didn't loosen its grip until the very last page. This fast-paced narrative unfolds like a tightly wound coil, each revelation adding another layer of intensity.

The protagonist, Ruby Carlson, pulls you into her world with a narrative that is both haunting and captivating. Her return to the small town of Stoneybrook, after two decades, unravels a tapestry of secrets and deception, centering around her enigmatic mother, Ida. The atmosphere is thick with tension as Ruby delves into the shadows of her past, uncovering a truth that is as chilling as it is unexpected.

DeLuca masterfully navigates the complexities of family dynamics and the long-reaching consequences of deceit. The small-town setting becomes a character in itself, with every alley and hidden corner harboring secrets that keep you guessing. The author skillfully intertwines the past and present, creating a narrative rhythm that mirrors the beating of a heart in suspense.

"The Night Side" doesn't shy away from the darkness that resides in human relationships and the consequences of buried secrets. The atmospheric storytelling, combined with well-crafted characters and unexpected twists, makes this a standout thriller. The sense of urgency and the need to unravel the truth mirror the pulse of the narrative, creating a heart-pounding experience that will leave readers on the edge of their seats.

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A dark, twisty and disturbing thrilller that kept me hooked and reading even if I found a bit too slow at times.
Well plotted, poignant and gripping
Many thanks to the publisher for this ARC, all opinions are mine

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"Twenty years of secrets. One deadly truth." This gripping premise sets the stage for Laurie Anne Forest's psychological thriller, "The Night Side." A tale that will keep readers on the edge of their seats, the story centers around Ruby Carlson, who made a decisive escape from her manipulative and deceitful mother, Ida, two decades ago, vowing never to return to her hometown of Stoneybrook, Montana.

When Ida goes missing and is presumed dead, Ruby feels compelled to return home to settle her mother's affairs. What ensues is a captivating narrative of mystery and intrigue as Ruby delves into a complex web of lies and secrets.

Laurie Anne Forest skillfully crafts a story filled with chilling memories, intricately drawn characters, and unexpected twists. "The Night Side" promises to be a riveting psychological thriller that keeps readers guessing until the very end.

This is a first for me by the author and one I enjoyed and I would read more of their work. The book cover is eye-catching and appealing and would spark my interest if in a bookshop. Thank you to the author, publisher and Netgalley for this ARC.

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Another creepy-good novel revolving around Ruby and her mother, Ida. Ruby was raised with her grifting con-artist mother who conned people out of thousands by "seeing" their futures through visions using Ruby as her pawn. Vacillating between the past and present, the book shows us Ruby's current life in England until she is called back to her small town when remains found suggest Ida may be dead. And so begins an incredible tale of who's who and who is responsible for all the crazy things that have transpired since their "fortune telling" days. It's a whirlwind and kept me breathless until I finished!
Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC!

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I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Sometimes you can come home and it's a nice welcome but for Ruby, this was not the case. Twenty years after leaving, Ruby's mom is now missing and presumed dead and Ruby now has to clean up her mother's mess although she vowed to be done with that part of her life. Although she was just a child and her mom made her a part of her scams to people, others still think Ruby had a say in what she did. They don't realize that Ruby had the worse scam done to her with her mom using her in all that she did.

I really enjoyed The Night Side by M.M. DeLuca. Just like all mysteries, I try to figure out what could of possibly happened and was shocked to find out I was so far from the truth! The timeline does go back and forth from Ruby's childhood and to the present time as an adult but it's needed as the story progresses and not only do we learn more about how things unfold but so does the main character, Ruby as well because not all is as true as it seems.

Thank you to NetGalley and Severn House the ARC. Also thank you to the author, M.M. DeLuca for the amazing writing and great read! Looking forward to reading some more of your books!

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This was such a sneaky slow build surprise that led to a final 1/3 of a book that I couldn’t put down.🤩

I’m always intrigued by a story involving psychics. My mom told me some wild stories growing up that have me fully believing that there are people who are more sensitive to other worldly phenomenon. I also believe that there are a lot of folks out there who can successfully read others in a way that allows them to prey on those who are seeking some connection to other realms. That being said, this book throws in a little bit of both, and an ultimate question about which of those categories one of the character falls into with regards to her abilities.

This isn’t my first book by the author (see my much earlier review for The Savage Instinct - which I highly recommend if you’re into historical thrillers) and I’m reminded why I enjoy her writing so much. Her character development is so layered and authentic, and even when highly unlikable, you’re interested in a character’s story. I really liked Ruby, and her complex relationship with her past, and the growth she demonstrated. I also appreciated that for all that felt unlikely in her story, she felt very real, and made decisions that felt believable.

I’ve had The Perfect Family Man on my TBR for a while, and I definitely have to move it up the list after this gem.

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