Kate’s Review: “Possession”

Book: “Possession” by Katie Lowe

Publishing Info: St. Martin’s Press, January 2021

Where Did I Get This Book: I received an eAR from NetGalley.

Book Description: Ten years ago, Hannah’s husband was brutally murdered in their home, and she (conveniently) doesn’t remember a thing about that night. But the police charged someone else—a stranger—and put him away for life. And Hannah packed up her six-year-old daughter and left London behind.

But now her hard-won countryside peace is threatened. Conviction, a viral true crime podcast known for getting cases reopened and old verdicts overturned, has turned its attention to Hannah’s husband’s murder for its new season. They say police framed the man who was found guilty, and that Hannah has more suspicious secrets than just her memory loss: a history of volatility; citations at the clinic where she worked as a psychiatrist; dependencies on alcohol and pills; and a familicidal grandmother, locked away in a Gothic insane asylum until her death. As Hannah loses the trust of everyone she loves, the only person she feels she can confide in is a former colleague, Darcy, who’s come back into her life—but who may have motives of her own. But Hannah can’t tell even Darcy her deepest secret: that she’s still tormented by the memory of her husband and the crater he carved through her life.

Review: Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this novel!

Do you know the feeling you get when you’re reading a book or watching a movie or TV show that has you totally enraptured and interested, and you are barreling towards the end excited to see how it wraps itself up for better or for worse….. And then the ending totally throws a wrench into any previous enjoyment you had of said book or movie or TV show? It’s a feeling that I luckily don’t run into often, but when it does happen I am usually left seething and grumpy. That’s kind of what happened with “Possession” by Katie Lowe. Oh the frustration!

But let me back up a bit before I go into the rant. “Possession” does have a lot of promising elements, which is why I was speeding through and entertained as I was reading. We have Hannah, an unreliable narrator either because she doesn’t remember the circumstances of her husband’s death, or is hiding the circumstances of her husband’s death. We have the device of a podcast that, while thinking it is searching for truth, is stirring up harassment and stalking of a woman victim, therein weaponizing misogyny under guise of justice. We have a lot of twists and turns, and a lot of great moments of self destruction as the reader looks helplessly on, unsure of whether they SHOULD be feeling bad for Hannah, but feeling bad for her nonetheless, as her life starts to unravel because of this spotlight. All of this works wonders, and Lowe does a really good job of pulling the strings to make the reader feel a certain way.

But the ending. THE ENDING. I’m not going to go into spoilers here, just because if people do want to read it and judge for themselves, I’m not about to make that any less fun or fulfilling. But if you want to go in completely blind, read further at your own risk, as I’m going to disseminate what didn’t work about it. In vague terms, but still, you will have some spoilage just because of this. So “Possession” has the kind of ending that feels like a cheat. We have two moments in the climax. The first feels like one ending, but then we get a huge left turn that completely negates the first moment. It felt like an unnecessary twist, and one that already left a poor taste in my mouth. But at least it would be an ending that, while I may not have liked it much, would have been an ending and a definitive ‘this is how this kind of story ends’ statement. But then, THEN, instead of letting that be the end, we get an epilogue! An epilogue that goes back to elements of the first fake out ending and sets up things to work out in that fashion after all, in spite of the fact that a lot of changes that were made with fake ending two are VERY permanent and it doesn’t quite make the reader (or at least me) feel better about anything that may be being reversed. I just didn’t quite understand why there was a need to do a second fake out ending if that was going to be hinted at being reversed in a hastily thrown together epilogue. Why not just have that first fake out ending be there, and if you want to have some of the consequences of fake out ending two, toss them in BEFORE fake out ending one?

But as you all know, I’ve never liked endings that have giant out of nowhere twists if I feel like they haven’t been earned, so this is very much a ‘your mileage may vary’ situation when it comes to how you may or may not enjoy this book. But for me, “Possession” was a last minute wash.

Rating 5: A tense and well paced thriller that had me totally invested… until the ending derailed a lot my affection.

Reader’s Advisory:

“Possession” is new and not on many Goodreads lists yet, but it would fit in on “Books for Serial Podcast Lovers”.

Find “Possession” at your library using WorldCat, or a local independent bookstore using IndieBound!

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