Juliet & Colton are having marital issues. In fact, he’s driving her to her mother’s house so she can have her space. The road trip is uncomfortable and tense. It’s a mix of bittersweetness and anger. They revisit the good times before they were married and argue about the smallest things. They notice a creepy car on the highway, one they later bump into at a pit stop for coffee and a pee. Tinted windows and an odd vanity plate go hand in hand with the Red Priest who drives it.
The suspense builds slowly in this tale. We spend the entire story in Juliet’s head and so we get to know her feelings on the marital issues quite well. She feels anger and betrayal and perhaps the death of something that once was great. Still, you can see how she also wishes that she and Colton could forget the ugliness and go back to being a happy couple. But that’s not a possibility, so she wants some space and time to think about her next move. Also, a part of her wants Colton to be punished and this is her way of doing it.
Pretty soon another element is added in: the creepy tinted-window vehicle. At first, it is just a slow moving vehicle Colton has to pass on the highway. But the odd vanity plate sticks with Juliet. Then they stop at a diner for some coffee and a pee break and they eventually notice the vehicle. The driver, to become known as the Red Priest, bumps into Juliet as she heads towards the bathroom. Pretty intense creepy dude. But you don’t know how creepy yet. You think maybe he is just way into this faith and smug on himself.
Edward Lorn includes a bathroom conversation. Not at the sink, but while Juliet is in one stall and the other lady is in the next stall over. I found this very amusing because Juliet found it annoying and a little uncomfortable. I am right there with her. Who has chatty conversations while doing their business with another person, even a stranger, who is doing their business? So by now I feel a connection to Juliet and I want her to come out of this OK.
So they get back on the road and things happen. I don’t want to spoil it for you. Let’s just say that the suspense that has been building up suddenly leaps ahead and things get horrifying very quickly. It was very well done, this shift. The Red Priest continues to play a part and Juliet fights on for her life. A supernatural element is introduced and it is particularly hair-raising. I very much enjoyed how so much of The Horror was left to the reader’s imagination. There’s a handful of details that your mind builds upon, just as Juliet’s mind does. She’s injured and it is no easy task to try to escape. Yet she soldiers on. The ending was not what I expected but I still felt satisfied by it.
Narration: Maria Hunter Welles did an incredibly good job with this book. She was a perfect fit for Juliet and she had this excellent way of getting Juliet’s emotions across to the listener. She also had believable voices for the men in the story. Later on, there are some rather disturbing sounds the supernatural element makes and Welles’ performance raised the hairs on the back of my neck and freaked out my cats. Just a superb performance all around.