author: Clémence Michallon
published: 20 June 2023
publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
buy/shelve it: Amazon | B&N | Goodreads
A pulse-pounding psychological thriller about a serial killer narrated by those closest to him: His 13-year-old daughter, his girlfriend—and the one victim he has spared
Aidan Thomas is a hard-working family man and a somewhat beloved figure in the small upstate New York town where he lives. He’s the kind of man who always lends a hand and has a good word for everyone. But Aidan has a dark secret he’s been keeping from everyone in town and those closest to him. He’s a kidnapper and serial killer. Aidan has murdered eight women and there’s a ninth he has earmarked for death: Rachel, imprisoned in a backyard shed, fearing for her life.
When Aidan’s wife dies, he and his thirteen-year-old daughter Cecilia are forced to move. Aidan has no choice but to bring Rachel along, introducing her to Cecilia as a “family friend” who needs a place to stay. Aidan is betting on Rachel, after five years of captivity, being too brainwashed and fearful to attempt to escape. But Rachel is a fighter and survivor, and recognizes Cecilia might just be the lifeline she has waited for all these years. As Rachel tests the boundaries of her new living situation, she begins to form a tenuous connection with Cecilia. And when Emily, a local restaurant owner, develops a crush on the handsome widower, she finds herself drawn into Rachel and Cecilia’s orbit, coming dangerously close to discovering Aidan’s secret.
Told through the perspectives of Rachel, Cecilia, and Emily, The Quiet Tenant explores the psychological impact of Aidan’s crimes on the women in his life—and the bonds between those women that give them the strength to fight back. Both a searing thriller and an astute study of trauma, survival, and the dynamics of power, The Quiet Tenant is an electrifying debut thriller by a major talent.
- my review
- a few notes
This book is one of the most sinister and chilling books I’ve ever read, a psychological thriller that had me hooked from the very first page.
The structure this book was so different yet incredibly powerful. The story is told through the multiple perspectives of a serial killer’s daughter, his girlfriend, and his sole surviving victim. Most of the narratives are told in the first person, but one is told in the second, which makes for an interesting angle to the story. The progression of the novel is slower, and the content is often disturbing, but these things really just add to the atmosphere and suspense of the storyline.
The characterization in this book were truly masterful. Each of the women sees and knows Aiden in a different way. He is a chameleon, capable of disguising himself as a good man, a devoted father who’s grieving the recent loss of his wife. But beneath that is a much darker man, cunning and manipulative, dangerous. To Cecelia, his daughter, he is a good and caring father, if a tad overprotective and demanding. To Emily, he’s the object of her affection, enticing her to become his puppet as he repeatedly manipulates and gaslights her. But to Rachel, he’s a captor. She’s not Aiden’s first victim but his ninth, and the only one still alive, largely due to her own wiles and cleverness. It is that cleverness that helps her convince Aiden to keep her alive, to move her with him and Cecelia when they are forced to relocate, her only chance at survival.
The pace is slow, but it perfectly adds to the tension of the story. The book is deep, intense, and gripping, a story that digs deep into your soul. It’s very unique and thought-provoking, a story that won’t let you go even after the last page.
content warning: ❗some graphic violence, sexual assault❗
POV: 1st/2nd person; multiple voices
keywords/phrases: kidnapping, assault, family
cover notes: eerie