The Spires by Kate Moretti
9/21/21; 316 pages
Thomas & Mercer
The Spires by Kate Moretti is a highly recommended slow burning thriller featuring dual timelines.
Penelope Cox is shocked when Willa Blaine, an old roommate she hasn't seen for 20 years shows up at her door saying she needs help escaping from an abusive relationship. She says she just needs two weeks to decide what to do next. Penelope has enough stress with an unemployed husband, two teenagers, and a precarious work situation, but she agrees if only because of their past history. Twenty years ago, after graduating from college, Willa and Penelope lived with three other friends, Jack, Bree, and Flynn, in an old church which was converted into a house. We know a fire destroyed the church house and the group of friends. Now Willa is back, seemingly being helpful and grateful for a place to stay but there is an unsettling undercurrent of something nefarious being planned.
The chapters switch between the present day occurrences and that of
20 years ago. Flipping between timelines doesn't always work well in
this novel simply because the past isn't quite as compelling as the
current situation. A better choice might have been less chapters set in
the past with a more condensed and succinct story line. We need to know
what happened but perhaps don't need all of the immature angst of the
characters. In the present day it takes enough suspension of disbelief
that Penelope would put up with some of Willa's actions as long as she
does. Most adults under these circumstances would have said, "I'm sorry
but this isn't working. You need to leave and find someplace else to
Moretti does keep you reading though, so she gets credit for that
feat and for writing reliable thrillers that keep the suspense high.
Penelope is a fully realized character in both timelines as this is her
story from the past and the present. You will understand why she
acquiesced to Willa staying with her after no contact for so long,
however you won't understand why she didn't tell Willa to leave. There
are a few short chapters set in the present from Willa's point-of-view
that are consequential. This is an entertaining novel, but readers may
also need to know that most people are going to be able to predict
exactly what is going to happen (with the exception of an unrealistic
twist) as the premise is not original. 3.5 rounded up
Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Thomas & Mercer.