5 Stars. Out 3/24/20. Trigger warnings for eating disorders, body horror.
Elise’s best friend Julie was missing for two years. Their friends Molly and Mae were certain she was dead. They had a funeral for her. And then Julie came back with no memory of the time she was gone.
Trying to get life back to normal, the four women decide to go on a girls trip to a trippy boutique hotel in the Catskills. But when they all get there and see Julie for the first time since her return, they realize something is very very wrong. And yet, no one can bring themselves to talk to Julie about it, not even Elise. Not until it’s too late.
The Return by Rachel Harrison is an amazing book, scary and thrilling with well crafted characters. Harrison blends absolute terror with humor and humanity. There are well-placed moments of levity, and even the most frightful scenes are injected with meaning beyond just a good scare.
This book an excellent examination of female friendship, especially with groups of women who have known each other for a long time–the history you bring up and the history you agree to forget; the wrongs done to each other that can build up; the resentment, the judgement, but also the deep love. What do you owe your closest friends? What do they owe you? What does it mean to really be there for each other? While this is obviously a horror novel and exists in the realm of the fantastic, it is very likely you have been in Elise’s situation before…trying to figure out how to help an old friend who is clearly having problems and could use support, but perhaps the baggage between the two of you is getting in the way.
In asking these questions and tackling these problems, The Return does that thing that I love best about horror, which is shine a light on real life struggles. I really loved The Return and recommend it to anyone who enjoys books about female friendship, the movie Jennifer’s Body, and/or folk horror (yup, there’s a bit of that in there).
Thank you to Netgalley and Berkley Publishing Group for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.