Over the past several years, it’s been fascinating to watch Gailey refine the blueprint for a domestic thriller with a supernatural twist, culminating in their latest horror novel that gets beneath your skin before you even realize how deep it’s gone. Examining a serial killer’s legacy through his widowed wife, estranged daughter, and abandoned house, Just Like Home interrogates the bloodlust of the true crime genre alongside a good old-fashioned haunting ... Other writers would stay in their lane between true crime or haunted house story, but Gailey grabs both plots by the throat and binds them together in an unsettling, deliberately related tale ... The repetitive language can at times feel as if it’s obscuring the actual plot revelations, with the effect of a seasoned reader of the subgenre able to guess at some conclusions before Vera reaches them. But that doesn’t mean there’s some neat explanation for everything going on within the walls of Crowder House—on the contrary, there are multiple overlapping issues that raise more questions than they answer by the time you close the book. Trained as we are to crave the clear narrative arc of a true crime tale (even an unsolved one), it’s a refreshingly messy resolution.
... a blood-soaked psychological thriller crafted to keep readers up at night ... Gailey's patient plotting carefully constructs a complex and twisted family dynamic, both in the past and the present, among Vera, Daphne and Francis. These relationships ultimately form the core of the novel, as Vera balances on a knife's edge between pragmatic emotionlessness and a descent into the terror and apprehension her parents wrought. While the shudder-inducing family dynamic--defined by scenes such as Francis giving Vera 'the talk' while gutting a fish--undergirds the novel, Gailey's strong attention to atmospheric details gives it a true gothic horror flare. It's the details--from the sticky-sweet taste of lemonade to the slick, inescapable sensation of grease--that will viscerally disturb readers, and are guaranteed to take up residence in their minds and refuse to leave.
Excellently crafted ... Scary enough to satisfy horror fans, particularly those who revel in disturbing images and suffocating settings ... An excavation of tense and toxic family dynamics, Just Like Home uses atmospheric scenes of supernatural horror to unpack the impact of a traumatic event. And Gailey goes even further, observing throughout their terrifying tale that any of us could be haunted—whether by gender ideology, the weight of secrets or the actions of our family members—while bravely refusing to offer clear-cut answers about the nature of good and evil.
Delightfully creepy and heartbreakingly tragic, Just Like Home is equal parts raw terror of a dark childhood bedroom, creeping revelations of a true-crime podcast, and searing hurt of resentment within a family. It’s a must-read for all gothic horror fans.
Superior ... Suggestive prose...enhances the twisty plot as Vera tries to better understand the killings her father was accused of. The counterintuitive choice to have flashbacks recounted in present tense, while using past tense for present-day events, along with ominous foreshadowing...helps to create an unsettling atmosphere. Minette Walters fans will be captivated.