Over the past couple of years Gillian Flynn has become my favourite author, ever. I love her writing style, the untrustworthy characters she creates and her ability to keep her readers guessing before shocking us all with plot twists that no one saw coming. When I picked up The Grownup in the bookshop and realised it was less than 70 pages long, I was slightly concerned Flynn was not going to be able to deliver her trademark dramatic twists and turns in so few words. How very wrong I was…
The Grownup is about a woman living in the city who, after a difficult childhood, has spent years performing sex acts on men in the back room of a fortune tellers shop. When years of pleasuring men for money causes her to develop carpal tunnel syndrome, the unnamed narrator moves to the front of the shop and begins her career in reading peoples auras. Instead of manipulating bodies she is now manipulating vulnerable people and telling them exactly what they want to hear.
Our leading lady was enjoying a pretty easy job until an upset Susan comes in for a reading one day. Susan is not sure if she is a believer in what this woman does but she is concerned the house she has recently moved to is having a negative influence on her stepson, Miles. This is where the story gets pretty creepy, anything to do with a possessed house or creepy children always freaks me out.
The narrator sees Susan as yet another money making scheme, she agrees to cleanse the house, burn some herbs and give it a good clean and voila, the ‘bad spirits’ will be gone. We meet Miles in their old Victorian house and he is every bit as creepy as Susan describes. Miles has very violent tendencies, a devilish grin and is not shy of dishing out the odd death threat or two; his Mother, younger brother, babysitter and even the cat have all been victims of his evil ways. From the moment Flynn introduced him, I was scared of Miles. I won’t tell you what happens next but I will say the ending does not disappoint and as you finish the last line, you will be left desperate for more yet completely satisfied at the same time.
This book is immediately recognisable as something written by Gillian Flynn, nothing is quite as it seems and deciding what characters, if any, to trust is no easy task. In under 70 pages, Flynn manages to pack in a satisfying amount of character development as well as throwing a couple of plot twists into the mix. I was pleasantly surprised, that even though it is a short story, the story didn’t feel rushed and none of the tension was sacrificed due to a strict word limit.
If you like Gillian Flynn’s other novels (Sharp Objects, Dark Places,Gone Girl) you will not be disappointed by her latest work. It has proved the perfect cure to my Flynn withdrawal symptoms (they’re a real thing) and has got me looking forward to the release of her next novel, whenever that may be. Also, if you have never read any of her previous work, The Grownup is a great introduction to Flynn and her writing style, it can easily be read in an hour. If you don’t like it, that’s only an hour of your life wasted but if you love it, you may just open yourself up to some pretty brilliant crime thriller novels, full of characters and storylines so messed up you will find it difficult to forget them.
The Grownup is the first short story I have ever read, it was originally featured in an anthology put together by George R R Martin called Rogues. I have been inspired to read more short stories now, while I love to completely emerge myself in a book for weeks, being able to read a story in one sitting and not have to wait to find out the ending was really refreshing and exciting.
Do you like reading short stories? Have you read The Grownup or any other Gillian Flynn novels? Has this review inspired you to give it a read? I would love to know your thoughts.
If you enjoyed this review, you may also enjoy reading my other book reviews here.
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