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  • Writer's pictureC.A. Fray

Book Review: Verity by Colleen Hoover

There is so much hype about Verity from the #bookstagram community, but due to the suspenseful content, I had no idea what to expect. Therefore, dear reader, if you have not read the book and you would like to remain in the dark until you have the pleasure fo reading, this is your time to bow out of this post as there are spoilers ahead.

The protagonist, Lowen, is a self-proclaimed New York agoraphobe that writes suspense novels After her mother's death, due to being unable to pay her bills, she is evicted from her apartment. When an employment opportunity and convenient living arrangement comes in the form of sensible, sexy Jeremy Crawford, of course Lowen has to take him up on his offer.

The trickiest thing about Verity is that I didn't know what to believe throughout the entire book. Which, arguably, is the largest contributor to the book's success. Is Lowen, an unreliable narrator? Possibly. Does she have her own problems? Yes. And does her imagination play tricks on her? Yes. Her fascination with the Crawfords is a wonder of a plot device, securing the reader with the juicy details of Verity and Jeremy's love affair, which eventually delves further into Verity's selfish, villainous ways. Her story is practically click-bait, and Lowen can't stay away. The momentum of Lowen's horror moves the story forward, and as the reader, you find yourself reading just one more chapter...

There are many book reviewers that claim the book is "creepy". I didn't find it so. Other than the description of the Crawford house where Lowen overuses similes like the "iron gate resembles spider webs", the roof being "slate grey like an angry storm cloud", the "blood red door", then finally the blatant reveal that the house's ivy is "threatening - like a slow moving cancer," there is nothing inherently disturbing about the house other than the narrator is telling us so. I didn't love that the reader had to exclusively rely on Lowen for the mood. There are a few elements that hint at a creepy factor like describing the dark basement, Verity being immobile and Lowen just generally being surprised whenever she turned around, but there is nothing actually scary about this book. Lowen's fear takes center stage, and she is more a part of the frame tale than an active protagonist in the story. She peels back the curtain, but doesn't play a huge leading role other than lusting after a tragic leading man.

The alternation between Verity’s manuscript and the horror Lowen feels after reading each passage was excellent. It gives a necessary break between chapters. Nevertheless, I personally don’t enjoy books, movies, or television where children are hurt or abused, and in this instance, the children are so helpless. Hoover did a superb job making Verity into a monster. Her disconnect from her daughters, the manic love and jealousy she feels for Jeremy is difficult to read. I almost did not finish the book after the scene where Verity tries to choke her infant daughter, Harper. Even later, when she admits to drowning Harper, Verity is such an over the top villain that I found it difficult to take it at face value. Surely, she couldn't be such a monster?

I have to admit, by the end, I didn’t know if Lowen was the actual antagonist (and was just an unreliable narrator) or Jeremy had a hand in the deaths or if it was all Verity. I liked the uncertainty at the end. It had me second guessing what was true and if the truth mattered anyway if it resulted in the tragic deaths of so many.

Verity is a highly consumable read. I would have liked to see more setting/mood description without such heavy reliance on Lowen's POV, and the child abuse was a bit much for me. For this reason I'm giving the book 3 1/2 stars out of 5. I absolutely still recommend for those who like thrillers, though I wouldn't go so far as to put it in the romance category, which is where I found it in my book store. It is definitely more of a mystery/suspense.

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