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Horror-Tinged Romance: Review of Providence by Caroline Kepnes

August 14, 2018

Jon is not a popular boy, quite the opposite – he’s a loner. To avoid being bullied, he walks the long way to school through the woods. And he has only one friend, Chloe, with whom he shares an intense relationship, on-line and off.

One day, during his usual walk through the woods he is kidnapped by a weird teacher from his school. He vanishes without trace.

Four years later he suddenly wakes up in the basement of the local mall. A note left behind by his kidnapper explains he’s been in an induced coma and has been given special powers.

Jon remembers nothing. He’s bigger, stronger – and baffled. Why kidnap him? And what are these so-called powers he supposedly now has?

This is the story of Providence, the latest book by US author, Caroline Kepnes who leaped to fame with her debut novel, You, published in 2014 and since picked up by Netflix, followed by Hidden Bodies, both excellent, dark-hearted thrillers starring the wonderfully psychotic bookseller, Joe Goldberg.

Providence, marks an unexpected change of direction for the bestselling author. Less a thriller, more a twisted love story, part YA romance with a dash of super-natural horror, it’s not easy to classify. The trick, as someone said, is not to pigeon-hole this book, not to go looking for just one thing or else you won’t find it.

Jon’s release back to his family and only friend, Chloe, is met with wild joy, but that joy quickly subsides when strange things begin to happen.

Jon’s father faints when he hugs him. Chloe collapses as she runs to him.

Without spoiling the plot, it becomes increasingly apparent that Jon’s new powers mean that he can harm anyone he feels strongly about, especially anyone he loves or hates. This devastating discovery sends Jon into hiding again so that he can keep his distance from those he cares about.

The only clue to what’s going on is the battered book left behind by his kidnapper. The book is an actual one, written by cult status horror and dark fiction author H.P Lovecraft from the 1930’s. (Never heard of him, but apparently he’s famous with horror fans).

The story then follows Jon, Chloe, and Charles “Eggs” DeBenedictus, a detective from Providence, Rhode Island, over the years as they live their separate yet interconnected lives. ‘Eggs’ is investigating a series of seemingly unlinked heart-attack deaths of young people, thinking he’s onto a serial killer and has a back story worthy of its own book.

Each chapter is being narrated from the point of view of one of these three characters. As the three come closer to one another and are separated by either choice or circumstances, the question of sacrificing love for safety becomes painfully clear to everyone.

Jon and Chloe are convinced they can track down the teacher who kidnapped him and solve the mystery and save Jon – and therefore their relationship.

But can they?

Providence is strange and wonderful, a Beauty and the Beast like story of loss, horror, redemption and the love (and social media) that binds us all.

About The Author

Caroline Kepnes is from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Her first novel You was translated into nineteen languages and shortlisted for a CWA New Blood Award. Her second novel Hidden Bodies is a sequel that Booklist describes as the love child of Holden Caulfield and Patrick Bateman. Caroline earned a BA in American Civilization at Brown University and worked as a pop culture journalist on Entertainment Weekly and a TV writer on 7th Heaven. She now writes full-time and lives in Los Angeles. A ten-episode TV series based on You will premiere on Lifetime Network in 2018.

Purchase a copy of Providence here 



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