We Used To Live Here by Daniel Hurst Book Review
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An elderly couple who previously lived in your home shows up one evening, not long after you have moved in. They want to look around and relieve some of their best memories in their old home. What you originally believed to be your dream home, soon becomes the last place you feel safe.
TW: Discussions of the murder of a child.
I listened to We Used To Live Here by Daniel Hurst as an audiobook, read by Adam Goodwin and Deidra Whelan. Adam Goodwin and Deidre Whelan do a fantastic job of narrating We Used To Live Here and I’d recommend listening to the audiobook for this reason.
It is also a short read, the audiobook was about five hours. This made it the perfect book today trip listen to while on a short holiday trip.
Grant and Steph Burgess are a fairly young married couple, who buy their “forever home”. Along with their two young children, Charlie and Amelia, the family quickly begins to settle in.
One evening, while they are getting ready to meet up with friends for dinner, the Burgess’s receive an unexpected knock on their door. Ken and Julie, an older couple stand on their doorstep, claiming to have previously lived in the house. They innocently request to look around for old times’ sake.
Their pleasant demeanor wins over Steph who lets the elderly couple in the home. After this visit, however, Steph and Grant begin the renovations of their home and discover disturbing messages on the walls.
These little disturbing discoveries send Steph down a rabbit hole as she tries to piece together what has happened in their home prior to them moving in.
What Steph does discover is dark and gruesome, the answers to a decades-long unsolved crime. Unfortunately for Steph, she also discovers the lies and secrets of more than just Ken and Julie, and Burgess’s seemingly calm family life is flipped upside down as secrets are revealed.
My Thoughts on the Plot
Something I really enjoyed about this story, was that it was not super long. Daniel Hurst was able to fit a full-length novel, into about 250 pages.
The plot moves along nicely, if not a bit slow at times. There was definitely filler with some of the characters that could have been left out. The filler leaves more to be desired considering it is a short story.
There are many little mysteries in this novel. Some of them appear to be more sinister than others. Some are nearly impossible to see coming.
These little mysteries divide Grant and Steph and they begin to venture down two different storylines. Grant’s storyline comes off a bit more cliche. A stressful job, an affair, and the daily stress of life.
While Steph, who is heavily managing the renovation, becomes suspicious of the older couple. She begins to find disturbing messages on the walls, hidden behind wallpaper. Grant finds Steph’s interest in the elderly couple disturbing.
Steph believes she is onto something. And she is.
My biggest issue with We Used To Live Here is perhaps that there is no real buildup. The twists feel like you’ve just taken a sharp turn because you almost missed the exit or street you needed to turn on.
My Thoughts on the Characters
Grant and Steph appear to be a fairly normal married couple. They bicker, have young children, and have just bought what seems like their forever home.
Grant and Steph don’t experience a lot of development throughout the story. Sometimes they come off as a bit “too” average. At times when emotion would have pushed the story further, there lacked emotion. Which made the scene feel flat and one-dimensional.
The elderly couple who show up one random evening, Ken and Julie, are sometimes more interesting than Grant and Steph.
I don’t have many more thoughts about the characters, other than I wish that 1) they were better developed and 2) had some resemblance of a personality.
This book was a quick read and I highly recommend the audiobook if you do decide to read it. This story came off a bit too lackluster for me. The characters a bit too one dimensional.
However, the twists are shocking and the ending wraps up nicely. For a short story, it hits the spot when you want a mystery minus a thick spine.
I’d rather this book 3.5 out of 5 stars.
You can grab a copy here. And if you’d read this story, what were your thoughts?
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