Every day I clean the Winchesters’ beautiful house top to bottom. I collect their daughter from school. And I cook a delicious meal for the whole family before heading up to eat alone in my tiny room on the top floor.
I try to ignore how Nina makes a mess just to watch me clean it up. How she tells strange lies about her own daughter. And how her husband Andrew seems more broken every day. But as I look into Andrew’s handsome brown eyes, so full of pain, it’s hard not to imagine what it would be like to live Nina’s life. The walk-in closet, the fancy car, the perfect husband.
I only try on one of Nina’s pristine white dresses once. Just to see what it’s like. But she soon finds out… and by the time I realize my attic bedroom door only locks from the outside, it’s far too late.
They say if you’re not hooked by the end of the first fifty pages of a book that you’re probably not going to finish it. This is precisely why many of the reviews on this site fall under the “First Fifty Pages” book reviews category, and very few have full reviews. Sometimes I press on, with only a few key elements holding my attention. Let’s just say THE HOUSEMAID hits different. So different that I was hooked by chapter three.
Which isn’t an easy accomplishment, because I am a picky reader. There. I’ve said it. Finally admitting to the world that I am a picky reader.
Why many authors feel they need a whole host of characters is beyond me. All a story really needs are a few, well-rounded characters that play nicely off each other. Well, that’s quite the opposite for this particular cast. We have Millie, Nina, Andrew, Cecelia and Enzo, with some of the players more eccentric than others. While Millie is quite the question mark herself, Nina is more-so right from the get go. Everyone has their own little nervous quirks, and none of them are “squeaky clean.”
Already there are questions that need answered within the first two chapters of the book. There’s something not quite right with the lady of the house – one could argue that same point for all members of said household. Is she suffering from postpartum, a manic state or some other disorder? And why would she feel the need to wear mostly white? It was super fun trying to figure out who would be the ultimate troublemaker, and when that twist comes, you won’t be ready for it! By the end of chapter six I am still stumped, and normally I have most of the story figured out by then.
Chapters are quick, easy reads and the pacing kept me on my toes. The first book to do so in a very long time. THIS is the kind of pacing I prefer in every genre, but is rarely seen in, say, historical fiction. I’m not one to typically choose a psychological thriller, but I just may have to a bit more often. Just when you think the pacing doesn’t make sense or is going way too fast, McFadden reels you in with a quick breather and it truly does, well, make sense.
I don’t often say this about stories set in more modern eras, but I absolutely loved THE HOUSEMAID. The small cast of characters played…nicely(?)…with one another, and reasons for their actions are eventually explained. If you’re looking for a tight, neatly wrapped story for a cozy night in, then I highly suggest you give THE HOUSEMAID by Freida McFadden a try.