After her dying, estranged mother calls Vera Crowder back home, she packs her itinerant life into her car and drives cross-country. Returning to the house her father—an infamous serial killer—built with his own hands, brick by brick, is challenge enough. On arrival, however, she finds a parasitic artist renting space in their backyard shed, aiming to “collaborate” with the house’s psychic residues to craft his installation works. Between her ailing mother’s cruel mood swings, an interloper consuming her childhood memories for inspiration, the legacy of her father’s love alongside his crimes, and the Crowder house itself, Vera’s attempts to settle the estate rapidly devolve. Secrets, lies, and rot: what else lurks beneath those glossy floorboards?
Just Like Home is a vicious and visceral gothic horror story dedicated to “everyone who ever loved a monster.” One of the book’s opening questions is, how does someone wrestle with the knowledge that their beloved father—whose steady love offered protection from an abusive mother—was also a murderous sadist? Nothing gets easier, or gentler, or more pleasant from there as the Crowder narrative unfolds. Their familial psychodrama stitches cruelty, affection, eros, and fear together into a tapestry of betrayal. Vera is a taciturn, withholding protagonist. Returning to the house of her dreams and nightmares pries her open a fraction at a time, and as the novel progresses, the reader begins to understand—hair-raisingly!—that Francis Crowder was far from the only monster of the house