The Seven Visitations of Sydney Burgess by Andy Marino is a whirlwind of horror. Sydney Burgess is a recovering addict, and she’s just brutally murdered someone who broke into her home.
All quotes are from an advanced reader copy, and may or may not reflect the published edition.
Sydney’s spent years burying her past and building a better life for herself and her eleven-year old son. A respectable marketing job, a house with reclaimed and sustainable furniture, and a boyfriend who loves her son and accepts her, flaws and all. But when she opens her front door, and a masked intruder knocks her briefly unconscious, everything begins to unravel.
She wakes in the hospital and tells a harrowing story of escape. Of dashing out a broken window. Of running into her neighbors’ yard and calling the police. What the cops tell her is that she can no longer trust her memories. Because they say that not only is the intruder lying dead in her guest room, but he’s been murdered in a way that seems intimately personal.
When she returns home, Sydney can’t shake the deep darkness that hides in every corner. There’s an unnatural whisper in her ear, urging her back to old addictions. And as her memories slowly return, she begins to fear that her new life was never built on solid ground-and that the secrets buried beneath will change everything.
Andy Marino has brought us an interesting story with many layers to it. Sydney is relatable, a woman spiraling after an extremely traumatizing event. The only grounding element in her life is her son, and even that feels like it is slipping away. The memory she is slowly uncovering of the night she brutally carved the face of the burglar is jarring. She’s not sure who to turn to.
Our characters are all interesting, and everything about Sydney’s life is seemingly simple. There are real issues that she has with future in-laws, and she and her boyfriend process those things together. It was a change of the general horror genre to see a supportive partner. While it did occasionally make you suspicious of him, the way it used him was amazing. I really enjoyed the inner workings of all of these relationships. There was just so much disconnect from chapter to chapter though that I struggled to take the time to actually appreciate it, though.
This book is written in a bit of a fever dream style, and sometimes it was hard to follow because of it. Because the pacing is so fast, there are moment where if you blink, you’ll miss it. The chapters drop off and then start again in different places, and that makes sense the further you get in the book, however, it’s jarring for the reader. While I enjoyed the way addiction is genuinely treated like a disease, and the way it was handled in this book, the general writing style damaged the ability to truly process and appreciate it.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.