The Grownup by Gillian Flynn
Published by Crown on November 3, 2015
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
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A canny young woman is struggling to survive by perpetrating various levels of mostly harmless fraud. On a rainy April morning, she is reading auras at Spiritual Palms when Susan Burke walks in. A keen observer of human behavior, our unnamed narrator immediately diagnoses beautiful, rich Susan as an unhappy woman eager to give her lovely life a drama injection. However, when the "psychic" visits the eerie Victorian home that has been the source of Susan's terror and grief, she realizes she may not have to pretend to believe in ghosts anymore. Miles, Susan's teenage stepson, doesn't help matters with his disturbing manner and grisly imagination. The three are soon locked in a chilling battle to discover where the evil truly lurks and what, if anything, can be done to escape it.
Gillian Flynn has proven herself as a master of messed-up characters. Coming in around 60 pages, The Grownup is a brief novella that provides Flynn’s flagship twisty scenarios. But with such an abrupt ending, I felt the story was a skeleton of something with potential, left unfulfilled.
The narrator without a name is a con artist. She’s just been promoted from back room work as an entry-level sex worker up to the front room, where she reads auras as a psychic, of sorts. When Susan Burke comes in needing help with her creepy house and even creepier stepson, the three characters quickly become entangled in secrets and lies.
It’s hard not to say more without giving anything away, so I’ll just say that I enjoyed this short story overall. With its moody atmosphere that Flynn excels at creating, the first part feels like a ghost story. It soon morphs into something else, and I felt that the ending was too rushed for my liking. I would’ve loved to see these characters more fleshed out. Nevertheless, it’s a deliciously creepy and messed-up read.
Rating: 3.5 stars