The Visitors is a chilling, gripping read that captured my attention from the very beginning. It is one of those books where the story immediately pulls you in and you need to find out what is going to become of the characters. While I finished the book in less than twenty-four hours, I must say that it isn’t an action-packed, edge-of-your-seat kind of book. The Visitors is definitely a page-turner, however, it is more of a slow-building tale into the disturbing lives of Marion and John Zetland.
The most frightening scenario in any book is the plausible one. The villains in this story could be anyone. They could be your co-workers, fellow commuters, your neighbors. That’s what makes this book so eerie and alarming. The events that occur in this story, while they are fictional, could actually happen in real life. Catherine Burns has created characters that have the ability to blend into the crowd, but don’t be deceived, sometimes the most average, unassuming characters can be the most dangerous. In my opinion, they are the scariest.
While I was reading The Visitors, I wasn’t merely reading the words, I felt as though I was walking through the dilapidated, dusty, filthy, cluttered house that the Zetland siblings called home. I could visualize and smell (yes, smell) every vivid detail that the author described. I could picture the characters as if I were seeing them firsthand – thankfully, I wasn’t! The author did a fantastic job of setting every scene so that the story came alive within the pages of the book.
Now, on to the Zetlands. The book mostly centers on the thoughts and feelings of Marion Zetland. For such an inactive, unmotivated, lonely woman she was absolutely fascinating. She was definitely a product of her environment. She was raised from an early age to believe that she was unintelligent, worthless, and unattractive. Of course, being around such negativity only ended up rubbing off on her, making her believe it to be true. She was introverted, subservient, and timid. At certain parts in the book I almost felt sorry for her and the wrongdoings against her. Her brother John, on the other hand, was the domineering, intelligent, educated man who commanded a certain sense of authority over Marion. He was a ticking time bomb of rage who used intimidation to his benefit.
The secrets and hobbies that John kept locked away in the old house’s cellar were something that Marion turned a blind eye to. If she didn’t have to see it or deal with it, then it had nothing directly to do with her. She took no blame in John’s depravity. But when John needed her to venture down into his dark sanctuary, she had no other choice than to finally witness her brother’s true wickedness.
I was thoroughly entertained and chilled to the bone by this debut novel. I am certainly looking forward to reading more by Catherine Burns in the future. The Visitors is an intriguing, disturbing, well-written book that will make you take a second glance at your own neighbors.