A beautiful home. A loving wife. And in-laws to die for.
Gemma Robinson comes into Elliot’s life like a whirlwind, and they marry and settle into his home. When she asks him if her parents can come to stay for a couple of weeks, he is keen to oblige – he just doesn’t quite know what he’s signing up for.
The Robinsons arrive with Gemma’s sister, Chloe, a mysterious young woman who refuses to speak or leave her room. Elliot starts to suspect that the Robinsons are hiding a dark secret. And then there are the scars on his wife’s body that she won’t talk about . . .
As Elliot’s in-laws become more comfortable in his home, encroaching on all aspects of his life, it becomes clear that they have no intention of moving out. To protect Gemma, and their marriage, Elliot delves into the Robinsons’ past. But is he prepared for the truth?
Wowzers! Now this is a bloody good book. I really didn’t expect to like it so much, but I had such a great time reading this, it was so satisfying!
It didn’t start off with a bang though but rather average which means I liked the first part of the novel well enough but Elliot is playing the part of a very naive guy much longer than I thought possible as (even) I could see it a mile coming that Jeff and Lizzy, Gemma’s parents who happen to stay with them for a few weeks, were not the in-laws to dream about. I don’t know what gave it away exactly, their nosiness, trying to suss whether Elliot was wealthy (asking questions about money is so not done, is it not), the fact that they have no respect for his home, or the worst of all, that one of them complains about the cat (how dare they!) and possibly locked the cat flap. There were so many triggers that I’d have my guard up in a flash but Elliot has a bigger heart than I have, there’s no doubt about that. All three of these examples out of so many more would make me pack up their bags and tell them to go fly. Easier said then done though come to think of it. What if your house guests don’t want to go?
The novel really switches gears when it finally dawns on Elliot that something is off and he finally gets that it might be a bit of a problem to get rid of them. The real fun starts then! The Robinsons feel right at home and with nowhere else to go, why wouldn’t they stay?
I never ever in a million years imagined it would be so difficult to get someone out of your house. I wondered how accurate that was because it felt quite unbelievable and I would have asked around if it wasn’t for this lockdown (imagine that being the case in this novel!) but I accepted it for that time being and I googled it after I finished the novel. It seems I wasn’t the only one interested in that answer and I found a (US) post that confirms it, the police can’t do much if they play it right and it can be pretty difficult to evict an unwanted guest.
I felt for Elliot and held my breath more than once, not least because I was scared the cat would get hurt in the process (I can’t even recount how many times I said ugly words out loud while reading!) and wanted nothing more than the Robinsons (well Jeff and Lizzy at least, I felt pity for the younger daughter Chloe) getting a piece of their own cake. Oh how I wanted the repulsive people that they were to get theirs. I refuse to feel guilty and actually find it quite funny how worked up I got about them. It was great to hate them so much and to follow the power plays going on because luckily and thankfully, Elliot isn’t prepared to just roll over and give up the rights on his own house. This unsettling and threatening vibe that something or someone is going to have to give is driven to the max towards the ending and there was more than one surprise in store in those final chapters that made me punch the air and left me lost for words all in the matter of turning a few pages.
Here to Stay is a terrifying novel that makes you appreciate your own family that little bit more than before. You don’t want to imagine this scenario coming true! Here to Stay has a wicked plot that was brilliantly executed and his next novel, The House Guest sounds like your next perfect nightmare.
Last bit of advice from me after reading this: choose your in-laws wisely to avoid all risk.
I bought a hardback copy of this novel at the Capital Crime Festival in 2019 (and Mark Edwards happens to be the first author I ever met, so I couldn’t be happier now). This is my honest opinion.