Book Title and Author: Theme Music by T. Marie Vandelly
Publication Date and Publisher: July 23, 2019 by Dutton Books
Genre: Thriller, Horror
Pages: 400 pages
Buy on Amazon.com
Date Read: July 9, 2019 (e-arc)
An utterly propulsive and unpredictable psychological thriller from stunning new talent T. Marie Vandelly
For the lucky among us, life is what you make of it, but for Dixie Wheeler, the theme music for her story was chosen by another long ago, on the day her father butchered her mother and brothers and then slashed a knife across his own throat. Only one-year-old Dixie was left alive, infamously known as Baby Blue for the song left playing in the aftermath of the slaughter.
Twenty-five years later, Dixie is still desperate for a connection to the family she can’t remember, so when her childhood home goes up for sale, Dixie sets aside all reason and moves in, re-creating a macabre decor with her family’s salvaged furniture. But as the ghosts of her family seemingly begin to take up residence in the home that was once theirs, Dixie starts to question her own sanity and wonders if the evil force menacing her is that of her father, or a demon of her own making.
In order to make sense of her present, Dixie becomes determined to unravel the truth of her past and seeks out the detective who originally investigated the murders. But the more she learns, the more she opens up the uncomfortable possibility that the sins of her father may belong to another, and, perhaps most tragically, to Dixie herself. As bodies begin to pile up around her, Dixie must find a way to expose the lunacy behind her family’s massacre and redeem what little remains of her soul.
First, I want to say that this book is filled with graphic violence, detailed acts of gruesome, inhumane acts of savagery and brutal murder. It might just be the bloodiest, goriest book that I’ve ever read. Ever. It’s very dark and beyond disturbing so if you tend to stay away from books that read like that, then this definitely is not the book for you. With that said, I freaking loved T. Marie Vandelly’s debut novel Theme Music!
When Dixie Wheeler was 18 months old, her father took an ax and brutally killed her mom, brothers Josh, Eddie, and Michael and then slit his own throat in their kitchen while she sat covered in blood in her highchair. She became known as “Baby Blue” for the song playing in a continuous loop while the murders took place, until she was found by Rory, a friend of her brother.
Twenty-five years later when she finds her childhood home is for sale, she’s determined to live there again, with or without her boyfriend Garrett, who refuses to move in and against her Aunt Celia’s objections (she raised her). If she wants to finally try and discover what really happened that day, Dixie feels compelled to move in. And she does, with her family’s old furniture, which she arranges exactly like it looked when they lived there.
As soon as she moves in, ominous things begin to happen. Dixie starts having terrifying nightmares and loses bits of herself―she can’t remember things almost as if she blacked out. Is Dixie losing her mind? Already insane from her childhood trauma? Or is the house haunted like it’s rumored? That’s what Dixie thinks when she begins seeing the ghosts of her dead family. As she delves into the past with the help of the detective who investigated the murders, she uncovers buried secrets and digs up more than just old ghosts.
Like I already said, I loved this book. It was a thrill ride from the start, and I’m still impressed it was a debut! I know the gore will be a turn-off for a lot of readers, but I do enjoy graphic violence in my thrillers when it’s done the right way as it is in this novel (for another excellent example, think Karin Slaughter’s superbly written yet extremely graphic violence in her thriller novels). In this case, the brutality and violence, the disturbing content, vividly brings the horrific Wheeler Massacre to life, which I think was absolutely a brilliant move by Vandelly because you can’t help but watch it play out in your head, bit by horrifying bit like a movie. It just amplifies the addictive quality of the novel as it goes along. There’s really no turning back from this book once you’re hooked by the narrative or Dixie, who is just a fantastic character. I absolutely can’t wait to see what Vandelly has in store with her next novel and you can be sure that I’ll be reading it!
Definitely put this one on your TBR for this summer (or even this fall―perfect for seriously scary Halloween reading)!
**Thank you Edelweiss and Dutton for the ARC. All opinions are my own.**