No visitors. No nights spent away from the apartment. No disturbing the other residents, all of whom are rich or famous or both. These are the only rules for Jules Larsen’s new job as an apartment sitter at the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan’s most high-profile and mysterious buildings. Recently heartbroken and just plain broke, Jules is taken in by the splendor of her surroundings and accepts the terms, ready to leave her past life behind.
As she gets to know the residents and staff of the Bartholomew, Jules finds herself drawn to fellow apartment sitter Ingrid, who comfortingly, disturbingly reminds her of the sister she lost eight years ago. When Ingrid confides that the Bartholomew is not what it seems and the dark history hidden beneath its gleaming facade is starting to frighten her, Jules brushes it off as a harmless ghost story—until the next day, when Ingrid disappears.
Searching for the truth about Ingrid’s disappearance, Jules digs deeper into the Bartholomew’s dark past and into the secrets kept within its walls. Her discovery that Ingrid is not the first apartment sitter to go missing at the Bartholomew pits Jules against the clock as she races to unmask a killer, expose the building’s hidden past, and escape the Bartholomew before her temporary status becomes permanent.
| Goodreads |
“Never take anything you haven’t earned, my father used to say. You always end up paying for it one way or another.”
I really enjoyed this book a lot more than I actually expected to. I’ve read the author in the past, I’ve read Final Girls by him, and I liked it a lot, but I think this one is a bit better even, I think it has a very fluid writing style that makes the whole reading process, even though tense, feels light at the same time. I admire the author a lot especially because he’s able to give us an extremely unique plot with solid twists and characters very different from each other. Most of all, I quite enjoyed the atmosphere as well, which almost makes you feel a bit claustrophobic while reading it. A really very successful book, that although it can become a bit predictable manages to surprise us towards the end and gives us a more than satisfying ending
The Plot Explained in My Word: In this story, we follow Jules Larsen, a girl who has been hit by life several times in her early twenties. Having just separated from her boyfriend, with no job and no family to support her, Jules sees in this new and peculiar job a way to finally start over and get ahead. This new job is about taking care of an apartment in the most prestigious and mysterious building in Manhattan, the Bartholomew, and although the rules are strict: like not bringing anyone to the apartment, not spending a single night out of it, or not disturbing the exclusive and wealthy tenants, Jules ends up totally enchanted by this great and unique opportunity, and needless to say that the money will come in handy in the precarious circumstances in which she finds herself. As Jules begins to get to know the other tenants, she crosses paths with Ingrid, another apartment sitter like herself, who nostalgically reminds her of her missing sister. Ingrid tells her the disturbing legends behind the Bartholomew, and although Jules doesn’t believe in ghost stories, things become more serious the next day, when Ingrid disappears. Because of this, Jules begins to dig deeper into the building’s past and discovers that Ingrid isn’t the first sitter to disappear from the place in the middle of the night, and with this, in mind, Jules must hurry to find out what’s really going on there before staying there becomes permanent. Are Batholomew’s inhabitants covering up something?
The Plot: The plot is, honestly, super entertaining, it kept me on the edge of my seat wanting to know what would happen from the beginning and it really is a plot that slowly leads you to think many things along the way and I must say, I find, that in this book, the plot itself is the undisputed protagonist, being even more shocking and powerful than the characters themselves. It has a very dark undertone and also gives you that feeling that anyone can be guilty and anything else can happen. The author has done a great job because this is also a very cinematic book, you can clearly see everything that’s happening in your head and without a doubt, I can see it being made into a movie, which I would watch without thinking twice, especially for that almost gothic visual beauty.
In this plot we explore grief, I think that undoubtedly that and loneliness, are two protagonists, since the main character has lost her family so tragically, and she only has her best friend as support, makes that during her stay in the apartment she begins to remember more of her past and also to wonder who she is and how she defines herself. It has a lot of introspection and is very well portrayed without being too heavy on monologues. We also get to explore the human psyche and very quickly see the darker sides of a person as well as the more honest and kind ones, all thanks to the variety of characters.
The Characters: The characters are good, they’re not an extremely amazing point for me, but they are well built and make the plot, who’s the real protagonist here, move which is great. The positive thing about this point is that there are really a lot of characters and that makes you distrust all of them, I was really all the time trying to figure out who was good and who wasn’t lol, which I find very entertaining. We also have a very marked variety within social classes, where there are characters that have nothing, and characters that have literally everything, as well as a lot of color in terms of personalities and actions, being all very different from each other. Among them, I have to highlight Jules, because I think she’s a great main character, I have to be honest, guys, I would have given up long before Jules,she goes all the way, and has proven to be a real fighter, even when things get very intense, dangerous and dark towards the end, she never gives up. Another thing I really like about her is that she never stops looking for Ingrid, who, as we read in the summary, she had just met, and I think the fact that no one was going to look for Ingrid since she had no family, made her feel relate to her, and she showed an incredible empathy, not only with her but then with other characters as well. I also highlight my favorite characters in this story, who are Chloe, the best friend, and Dave & George the janitors of the building. They all have secondary roles but, .in the case of Chloe I couldn’t help but love her because she’s the best friend in the world, and in the case of the male janitors, I found each of their personal stories to have weight and they touched my heart, no doubt. I would love to share with you much more about the characters and their roles, but obviously, I can’t because everything is potentially a spoiler when you’re talking about a mystery thriller
(I hope I spelled the names of the characters right, because I’m terrible at names, and this time I didn’t take notes lol)
Setting & Writing: The setting is spectacular, one of my favorites I’ve seen in the mystery genre. I think having everything happen inside a building like the Bartholomew is described here, is brilliant, I think it brings a sense of confinement and desperation, and you feel it along with the main character as she starts to feel more and more trapped inside its walls. It’s also a place full of secrets and every detail is important, I mean even the decoration, everything. At the same time, as I think I mentioned before it’s a very beautiful place, with an old gothic-Victorian vibe, that I think is perfect for the mystery that surrounds it. The writing style really charmed me, you can see how the author has improved from one book to another, being Final Girl very good too, I don’t want to detract from his previous work, but this is another level in terms of writing, much cleaner, straight to the facts, no twists and turns and yet guys there are almost 400 pages, I mean, many things happen during the story and every detail is important, so I think there’s not much filler in these 400 pages, everything matters and is very well created and organized.
Book’s Weaknesses: I think within the weaknesses I could mention that I think it’s somewhat predictable at times, but only if you’re really paying attention to the details, and maybe this is the intention, I don’t know, in my case I could guess who was responsible very early on in the book, but even so, it’s not really an impediment to enjoyment because there’s a lot more behind it and a lot more involved as well, it ends up being bigger than you think and that’s fine. On the other hand, I also find it not very believable that someone wouldn’t be suspicious of such a tremendous proposition, I mean someone offers you the perfect job, literally perfect, and you take it right away even though it comes with such weird and strict rules? I don’t know. I can see the growth of the main character, though, since in the beginning, she’s innocent and trusting, I also understand that not having many options and in such a desperate position you can accept something like that, of course. It just seemed kind of weird to me as I was reading it. Even so, it doesn’t have too important points of weakness, they’re observations more than anything else that I think are worth mentioning.
Book’s Strengths: I have to say again that THE PLOT, is the best thing about this book, and also the atmosphere that’s created while reading it, it starts off light and gets tenser and tenser and denser and dark, and you almost feel like you can’t breathe from the tension, it’s that kind of book, especially towards the end when everything really gets very bad. It’s a dark book clearly, it touches on some pretty sensitive issues, but it does it all in a very gripping way and honestly, it’s hard to put down. In fact, it left me thinking when I finished it about how everything the book describes could happen in real life and probably does, and that’s even more creepy. I also want to reemphasize that it touches on themes like loneliness and the search for meaning in life, it’s quite powerful when you pay attention to the things the characters must have gone through, all while the plot goes crazy around it. It’s a book that’s very well structured.
To conclude, it’s obviously a book that I ended up enjoying a lot, I think this author is fast becoming a must-have on my shelf, and I’m excited to continue exploring his stories, which so far, are everything I expect from a good mystery plot, always combined with dark themes that go a little more to touch the horror genre. How the author plays with the minds of the characters, while you read an already more than interesting plot. You never know what’s going to happen, so everything is very surprising. I really liked how it’s not a story, in this case, that ends with all the paths concluded and finalized, you know? There are many issues that are left to the imagination of the reader and others that are left open, and that for me, personally, is a plus, because it makes it feel more realistic. It’s a great book, I enjoyed it a lot, due to the genre there’s not much more I can reveal, but without a doubt, I think it’s worth reading. It has a very gripping plot from moment one, it has characters with powerful stories, and a fast-moving but shocking plot at every second. I wouldn’t be put off by the fact that you can guess what’s going on because, in the end, it leaves you with a feeling of “YES! THAT WAS AWESOME”, you know? And that feeling alone is worth the read. An extremely successful setting as well, with an incredible atmosphere and creepy details all over the place. Definitely a great reading experience.
Do I recommend it?: Of course, I DO! Especially if mystery/thriller is your thing, I know you’ll enjoy this unique plot with a touch of horror along the way and an ending that will keep you thinking for a while after reading it.
Precaution on sensitive topics: such as suicide and murder.
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