Sixteen years ago there was a car crash in the countryside near Kent, close to Wexham village, England. Three people were rescued by John, the patriarch of a reclusive family that tolerated no interaction with its neighbors. They did not live to wish they hadn’t been rescued. The husband and wife were fed to pigs. The badly damaged child, still an infant, had her head sewn back together by John with whatever home-made implements were at hand. She got a new name, Enda Clare. She became part of the family, a necessary part. The family needed girls. Last Wrong Turn by Amy Cross begins.
It is the present day. Two people on a journey, a married couple maybe on a vacation, the wife is pregnant, are going by car through a heavily forested area in the middle of the night on an unimproved road. There is a crash. The man and woman are knocked unconscious but are rescued. Not by John, he is now aged and a bit infirm. Enda rescues Pete and pregnant wife Penny. She takes them to her home, the farm, where John and Enda live. Enda has never seen a pregnant woman before. She doesn’t know why Penny’s stomach is so big. Pa (John) won’t tell her what is going on. She will just have to wait and see. She will take care of Penny as if she were a sister.
But what happened to husband Pete? Remember the pigs? Pete meets his fate early in the novel but Penny doesn’t know that. She only knows that Pete is missing. And she has other things to worry about, like giving birth. In this graphic depiction of the birthing progress, Enda becomes aware of where babies come from. She is still not quite sure of how they got in there, but she sees the final creative result. So now Enda might have a sister as well as a brother, although she will have to wait a while for the fully realized brother.
Penny is not on board with this plan. She wants to find Pete, clean up and take care of the baby, and get back to civilization. Enda intends to defeat this plan. In several pages of graphically described fight scenes, the reader has to admire Penny. She has almost no skin left on one hand. She is stabbed repeatedly, bludgeoned in the head multiple times but never stops resisting and attacking the stronger Enda until she is finally unconscious. Enda then surprises the reader by carrying Enda to an abandoned diner where she leaves Penny to be found and either treated or buried. But she keeps the baby.
Penny is saved, spends a lot of time in the hospital, tells her story to the police, and is not believed. Except for the one cop who remembers a time when another very similar situation occurred. That victim, Lindsay, spends a lot of time in a mental health facility. But Lindsay’s description of Enda and Penny’s description of Enda are too similar to be a coincidence. The search is on for the farmhouse, Enda, Pete, and Penny’s son, Hugh or Alistaire, the name dependent on which “mother” has the naming rights.
But no one can find the farmhouse. The search goes on for years. For most of the years, Penny is the only one searching but she will later be joined by Lindsay. The police have long given up allocating resources to the search. Will Lindsay and Penny together find the farmhouse?
Of course, they will. But what finally happens is the somewhat surprising ending and would be a spoiler if I revealed it here. So I won’t. But just a warning for the sensitive. The graphic violence found at the beginning of the novel goes on unabated at the end. This novel is not everyone’s cup of tea. Just look at the cover, the discerning reader should be able to figure that out.