The Hut in the Woods – by Vicki Zell – Review

A very good psychological book on relationships with a dose of adequate suspense

Strangely enough, the character of Carly often reminds me of the overly paranoid character of Jessica Tandy in the movie Birds, even though their situations (as far as relationships with husbands are concerned) are different. Carly’s paranoia is, as is the case with most basket cases anyways, fueled by her rabid imagination. Indeed she believes reality to be somewhat more than it really is. Carly is someone who believes that her husband is quite innocent; she is a little old fashioned and believes in wedding vows, “Vows like “I shall love no other. I shall be faithful, true, now and forever.” The very vows they shared with a church full of devote Baptists, Reverend Hoer, Dorian’s mother and father, and Carly’s mother and father. Oh yes, let’s never forget the most important wit-ness—Almighty God.”, until the truth about her husband comes around, that is.

Carly’s state of mind, both at the beginning (when she was living under the illusion that her husband is not cheating on her) as well as when she found out the truth about him, are both described in quite realistic details. As if the disturbing truth about her husband was not enough, the fact that an even more disturbed serial killer was on the loose only made the tale murkier, more so when Carly disappears all of a sudden.

The small town where Carly lives is deliberately kept shrouded in a weird kind of mystery; most of what you read is generated through Carly’s active imagination. In fact, Carly has been living in an alternate reality of her own which essentially screws up the reality for her, and the author spares no details to portray her vivid imagination complete with her queer behavior in great detail.

“Babs knew of Carly’s crazy head and how the saleswomen’s strange antics would have put Carly’s already overactive imagination into over-drive, and she couldn’t risk that ever happening.”

“Carly assume it was because she was considered a child, which deemed it unnecessary she receive the respect knowing of such news or such gossip, and if we’re to speak the truth, more than likely, the latter of the two proved more to be correct in Carly’s assumption.”

The author also does not hastate to describe Carly’s childhood, which is quite a hint about the person she would become when she grows up:

” Of course with Carly Laden’s mind, well, she saw more than most other children. She was no different though because like all children, she questioned the whys and hows of everything.”

Likewise, the reason why Dorian fell for Carly is also described in such a way that the whole affair is rendered plausible; you don’t tend to think of them as characters on a page, you rather feel as if they are two living, breathing human beings you know only too well:

” But it was Carly who Dorian noticed above all the others. Carly’s demeanor was an indifference a man like Dorian Shiffer had never experienced. Sensing all eyes were on him, undressing him, Dorian kept his attention on Carly, who paid no attention at all but kept right on working at her desk. It was disturbing to Dorian that a woman would show no interest. This was the very first time in his twenty-two-year life a woman didn’t swoon over him. Something about Carly stirred in him that day. I truly believe it was the first time Dorian felt an attraction to anyone, male or female. Men like Dorian Shiffer don’t need to feel attracted to women, or men for that matter, because women and men flock to him like sheep flocking to their herdsman.”

Suffice it to say, all the characters, including Carly, are described in quite realistic and vivid details. Even in spite of all that Dorian did to Carly, I could not help but feel sympathy for his character when he was blamed for Carly’s disappearance.

“I’m assuming you know Carly’s been missing for some time. I just believe Dorian—”

Of course, her disappearance was the turning point of the book (in fact the book got all the more interesting right after Carly disappeared)! The next pages of the book indeed make this book worthy of a decent mystery thriller full of suspense.

The dialogs are written in such a way that they fit the character perfectly. The story flows well and keeps you on the edge of your seat until the end. The downside is that the author did not add more humor when portraying some of the characters in the book – this would have enlivened this book all the more. Also, the last few pages of the book tended to be a bit more serious and different, making it somewhat detached from the rest of the book; I believe not all readers maybe prepared to face such a sudden change in the tone and style of the story.

Overall, I would recommend it to just about anyone who wants to read a psychological book on relationships, with a dose of suspense.

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