Review Type: Spoiler Free
Title and Author: Theme Music by T. Marie Vandelly
Buy it here.
An utterly propulsive and unpredictable psychological thriller from stunning new talent T. Marie Vandelly
For the lucky among us, life is what you make of it, but for Dixie Wheeler, the theme music for her story was chosen by another long ago, on the day her father butchered her mother and brothers and then slashed a knife across his own throat. Only one-year-old Dixie was left alive, infamously known as Baby Blue for the song left playing in the aftermath of the slaughter.
Twenty-five years later, Dixie is still desperate for a connection to the family she can’t remember, so when her childhood home goes up for sale, Dixie sets aside all reason and moves in, re-creating a macabre decor with her family’s salvaged furniture. But as the ghosts of her family seemingly begin to take up residence in the home that was once theirs, Dixie starts to question her own sanity and wonders if the evil force menacing her is that of her father, or a demon of her own making.
In order to make sense of her present, Dixie becomes determined to unravel the truth of her past and seeks out the detective who originally investigated the murders. But the more she learns, the more she opens up the uncomfortable possibility that the sins of her father may belong to another, and, perhaps most tragically, to Dixie herself. As bodies begin to pile up around her, Dixie must find a way to expose the lunacy behind her family’s massacre and redeem what little remains of her soul.
I’ll begin by saying I’m not normally a horror/thriller reader by any means. I’ll pick one up every now and again, but fantasy/sci-fi are more up my alley. So I was excited to get out of my comfort zone a bit and try this one out. And just the first few pages gave me goosebumps so I knew I was in for a wild ride.
In the beginning, I felt like I couldn’t really get my footing. Although the opener was amazing, as the story started to unfold I had trouble getting a sense of how I was supposed to be feeling about Dixie. Was I supposed to feel sorry for her? Was I supposed to be able to relate to her? Was I supposed to find her behavior and thought processes a little bizarre (which I definitely did)? I feel like I’m used to the film ‘horror’ model where the protagonist is this super relatable down-to-earth and normal character so getting to know Dixie was a bit of an adjustment.
That being said, as the story went on I realized that her quirks were definitely purposeful and added to the disjointed structure of the narrative really well. Although there were times I found myself frustrated at the protagonist in this book, I thought her behavior and the way she expressed her grief were really realistic and touching.
Though I did find the middle section of the novel a bit repetitive, as you edge toward the end the suspense is truly griping, the continuity was extremely impressive, and I found the ending wholly climactic, disturbing, and satisfying. There were also a lot of little specific details throughout the novel that added a nice sensory touches, grounded the characters, and made the story feel more relatable.
Overall, I think this is a great book that any horror/thriller fans will definitely enjoy. For those like me who aren’t avid horror readers who want to give this a shot, don’t make the mistake of going into it expecting your stereotypical horror film protagonist. This story centers around a protagonist much more complex and rightfully flawed than that.
Thank you again to T. Marie Vandelly for providing us with an ARC copy of this awesome book! Theme Music is scheduled to publish today, July 23rd. Order your copy here!