Wonderland by Jennifer Hillier
Published: October 5th 2015
Fans of Chelsea Cain and Lisa Gardner will devour this edgy thriller about the gruesome secrets hidden beneath a small-town amusement park. From the author of Creep, Freak, and The Butcher, Jennifer Hillier’s “fine knack for creating hideous killers” (Booklist) is vividly on display.
Welcome to Wonderland. By day, it’s a magical place boasting a certain retro charm. Excited children, hands sticky with cotton candy, run frenetically from the Giant Octopus ride to the Spinning Sombrero, while the tinkling carnival music of the giant Wonder Wheel—the oldest Ferris wheel in the Pacific Northwest—fills the air. But before daybreak, an eerie feeling descends. Maybe it’s the Clown Museum, home to creepy wax replicas of movie stars and a massive collection of antique porcelain dolls. Or maybe it’s the terrifyingly real House of Horrors. Or…maybe it’s the dead, decaying body left in the midway for all the Wonder Workers to see.
Vanessa Castro’s first day as deputy police chief of Seaside, Washington, is off to a bang. The unidentifiable homeless man rotting inside the tiny town’s main tourist attraction is strange enough, but now a teenage employee—whose defiant picture at the top of the Wonder Wheel went viral that same morning—is missing. As the clues in those seemingly disparate crimes lead her down a mysterious shared path of missing persons that goes back decades, she suspects the seedy rumors surrounding the amusement park’s dark history might just be true. She moved to Seaside to escape her own scandalous past, but has she brought her family to the center of an insidious killer’s twisted game? Acclaimed author Jennifer Hillier’s bone-chilling thriller is masterful and fast-paced, hurtling toward a shocking, bloody conclusion.
I admit, this one was a little slow. I was going to shelf this and pick it up again later. Initially the story really wasn’t grabbing my attention. There are so many components in the first hundred pages that it is hard to wrap your head around. There is a fair amount of twisted and sexually disturbing elements to this story. The majority happen quite early on. These events may trigger some readers and leave them deeply uncomfortable.
As a horror buff, I found with further reading the story took a much different turn. The ‘uncomfortable’ components drifted away and were replaced with genuinely scary storytelling.
I like the style of prose and the female antagonist. It’s not often a female gets to be the big bad villain. Hillier crafted a character that readers will LOVE to HATE.
This sure was a wicked ride. From the downright strange, to ultimate creepy–this book has everything.
For fans of clowns and funhouses–this ones for you!