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A spooky book for a spooky month

As many students’ favorite spooky season approaches, the thought of October may bring to mind horror, thrill, and mystery. With music, decorations, fashion and literature, everyone, including myself, can find a multitude of ways to incorporate an eerie element or two into this month. For anyone looking to be spooked by a psychological thriller with a touch of romance, “Verity” by Colleen Hoover is a good place to start for literary chills and thrills.

Author of the bestselling novels “Ugly Love” and “It Ends with Us,” Hoover reached fame for her contemporary romance novels, which fall under the category of “New Adult (18+)” and are made for “Mature Audiences.” Although “Verity” differs from Hoover’s pure romance storyline that readers know and love, the novel is no less beautiful than her other masterpieces.

Veritytells the story of the eponymous Verity Crawford and Lowen, the woman selected by Verity’s husband to complete Verity’s bestselling mystery series. After an accident curtailed Verity’s ability to write, and thus to continue her legacy, Lowen receives a job opportunity to finish writing Verity’s series. Verity’s husband, Jeremy Crawford, takes on the role of caretaker of Verity and their son as well as helping Lowen settle into their home to write.

In the midst of her research, however, Lowen encounters a manuscript of an autobiography written by Verity, spanning from the night Verity met Jeremy to the day of the accident. Over the course of several weeks, Lowen reads the manuscript while she prepares to write Verity’s stories for her, until she finds that things may not be as they seem in the Crawford home. She discovers wicked truths, indescribable events, and the reality of the people she is working for.

This will be a non-spoiler review for anyone who is interested in picking up this haunting tale. Lovable for its many faces, “Verity” deserves a full four out of five stars. At first, the book is intense, especially in the opening scene, but it dies down immediately after. The mystery only begins to form a few chapters in, leading readers to seek answers to questions that have not yet been asked. Keeping curious readers on their toes, “Verity” succeeds at creating dramatic suspense while still adhering to the romantic elements numerous readers seek in reading Hoover’s works.

For anyone seeking something creepy while also staying away from horror or thriller, “Verity” presents the perfect blend of suspense and psychological drama that does not create stress for the reader. The development of the morally gray character, Verity, and the hero, Lowen, is outstanding. While Hoover primarily writes in a pleasantly romantic tone, the romance is not, in fact, the focus of “Verity.” Rather, it is an element that drives the plot forward in the most unusual but captivating way. The romance aspect propels the novel to its climax while also developing Verity’s personal narrative. The novel’s third act is especially thrilling, as Hoover throws a wrench into the plot, leaving readers uncertain of the truth regarding Verity, her life and her accident.

While this was a truly amazing read, the novel does warrant some criticism. While the characters and their development were the highlights of the novel, readers may find themselves wanting to see more of the characters in their element outside of the mystery the plot held. Perhaps if the characters were given time to shine outside the turmoil of the home, the ending would have tied together in a more cohesive manner. Additionally, the plot may progress too slowly for some readers’ taste, especially in the case of Lowen, who takes quite a bit of time to read the manuscript and there is little to no mention of her progress in doing her job. She is described as having read some of Verity’s notes and Verity’s prior novels, but her characterization as a writer and how the mystery itself affects her job could have been elaborated on further by Hoover. If there were finer character developments and a deeper understanding of Lowen and Jeremy, “Verity” would be much more multidimensional and nuanced.

Overall, this book is the perfect read for anyone looking for psychological horror that’s definitely going to keep them up at night and have them wondering not only about the novel’s mystery but that of the world as well. Sometimes, being scared is not a matter of whether we jump and scream when someone shouts “BOO!” out of the blue, but rather about the haunting ideas within our reality and the truth about who people really are.