If This Is Home (★★★☆☆)

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Stuart Evers   *   Picador   *   February 10, 2017   *   320 Pages

Advanced Reader Copy provided by publisher through Net Galley.

Joe Novak is having a bit of a crisis. For the past few years he’s been working at the Valhalla, a posh getaway where middle-aged rich men get to have all of their wishes granted and desires realized. Joe likes his job well enough and he’s making good money, too–but he’s also slowly losing his mind. He is haunted by his past, especially by the memory of his first love, Bethany. He’s even starting to “see” and have involved conversations with her. His coworkers are worried about him, and Joe isn’t feeling the best about himself either. He’s restless and on edge. Eventually a really bad day at work leaves him no choice but to travel back home to England so he can come to terms with his past.

I’m still not entirely sure what to make of this book. I was really into the first half. I liked reading about the Valhalla and the weird Eyes Wide Shut-like fantasy thing going on. It was creepy and gross, but interesting. But after Joe leaves the U.S. to fly back to England, his time in the U.K. has basically nothing to do with the Valhalla at all. The story never even circles back around to connect the two plot lines together. The second half was still strong and kept my interest, but I kept waiting for Evers to tie up the loose ends and he never did.

Ultimately, I was satisfied (for the most part) with the final mystery reveal, but, unfortunately, If This Is Home read like two incomplete stories clumsily smushed together. All the pieces were there, but they just didn’t fit like they needed to.

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