I have to be in a very specific mood to enjoy thrillers, but What We Buried hit the sweet spot. Psychological creepy horror, there was just enough to keep me hooked and constantly wondering, “What is happening right now?!”
Siblings Liv and Jory Brewer have grown up resenting one another. Liv—former pageant queen and reality-TV star—was groomed for a life in the spotlight, while her older brother Jory, born with a partial facial paralysis, was left in the shadows. The only thing they have in common is contempt for their parents.
Now Liv is suing her mom and dad for emancipation, and Jory views the whole thing as yet another attention-getting spectacle. But on the day of the hearing, their parents mysteriously vanish, and the siblings are forced to work together. Liv feels certain she knows where they are and suspects that Jory knows more than he’s telling . . . which is true.
What starts as a simple overnight road trip soon takes a turn for the dangerous and surreal. And as the duo speeds through the deserts of Nevada, brother and sister will unearth deep family secrets that force them to relive their pasts as they try to retain a grip on the present.
(Disclaimer: I received this free book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
Dual perspective novels that feature siblings will always be my kryptonite. Seriously. There’s nothing I love more than seeing a story play out from two different perspectives when they’re siblings. But besides the fact that I adored the way What We Buried was written, I loved how Boorman constantly keeps us on our toes to figure out what’s really happening. What We Buried was all psychological horror, but also including this almost meta aspect. Throwing in memories and questions of reality.
I’m not going to lie, the sibling relationship was one of the biggest reasons I enjoyed this book. Talk about siblings with a complex relationships. The sudden disappearance of their parents brings all these old issues to the surface. When one sibling has the limelight, and the other feels left behind, second hand, you know there’s going to be a lot of unresolved feelings.
And that’s what a huge chunk of this story is. All those things you wish you said to your sibling. After years. Those instances where you regretted your words, your actions, your inaction. At the same time, it also present a second chance. A moment of hope for reconciliation, especially if it provides one of your only chances at survival.
The Timey Wimey-ness
So the summary kind of hints that the siblings need to maintain a grip on the present. And while this is only one line of the summary, it’s the other big chunk. As the siblings ruminate on the nature of social media, of television, and pageants, the ‘real-ness’ of all these avenues are questioned. How real was your sister’s breakdown on television? Was it before she went onto that reality show?
When your actions, your life, consists of the media, the attention, the spotlight, what is real any more? Not even that, but since we’re looking at this story from two perspectives, with two different ways of seeing an event, which is the truth? Talk about meta. The worlds of pageants, performance, and people using you, judging you.
You know when you’re arguing with someone and they say, “no you did that first!” and you have a different recollection. What happens when your life hinges on the truth? When neither of you can remember who said it first. Who looked away first. And they’re keeping secrets from each other. And even themselves.
So this messing with memories, time streams, and the dual perspectives combines to form this gripping psychological thriller. What We Buried is eerie as reality, hidden shadows, and decrepit buildings (dis)appear without a trace. It is a book full of suspense, disbelief, and unanswered questions. For those who love those creepy, twisty thrillers, What We Buried is the perfect book for you.