Itsy, Bitsy Spider by Willow Rose is the first thriller in the Emma Frost series. I read a lengthy excerpt from this book that was part of another Willow Rose published short story, Humpty Dumpty. I felt the excerpt was very good. Predictably, it ended in a cliffhanger, one I could not resist. I have read six novels by Willow Rose. All the ones I read are in the thriller or horror genre. It seems to me I should be able to see the endings and surprises coming but so far that is not so. All the novels I have read so far have a similar serial killer theme, but Rose continues to entertain and surprise me. Either I am obtuse, or Willow Rose is a very good writer. I’ll go with obtuse and hope nobody knows what it means.
Astrid had a boyfriend. Astrid took birth control pills. They didn’t work. Oops! The surprise pregnancy was disastrous in a town run by a fanatically strict religious movement, the Home Missions Society. One church leader decided to react. Astrid woke up to find herself in a sparsely furnished room that held shelves full of canned food, a water tap, a sink, a toilet, a locked door and no windows. Once Astrid determined she couldn’t leave; and after a period of screaming, despair, and final resignation, she settled in to wait for some unknown event. Eventually, after the food had nearly run out, an old woman appeared with another six-month supply of food. Speaking honestly to Astrid, she said that Astrid would never leave the room and the woman would return every six months with additional food.
Even the obtuse reader (me) would remember that Astrid was pregnant. Astrid eventually gave birth to a boy. No doctor was in attendance, the old lady food supplier had supplied no drugs although she had provided diapers. Mother and son bonded out of necessity and lived together in the make-shift prison for four years. Astrid told her son, Sebastian, that if he ever saw the chance to run, he should. Perhaps the old lady could be distracted while on a resupply mission.
In a story that won’t intersect this one for a few chapters, we have the story of Emma Frost, a single mom with two children who inherited a home from her grandmother in the village of Esbjerg. Emma has decided it was time for a move. Her last job was terrible, and the country life would be good for daughter Maya and son Victor. The children, especially Maya, didn’t like the move. Maya missed friends and Victor wasn’t happy anywhere or with anything for long. He had several psychological issues that Emma ascribed to his dissatisfaction with her divorce from his father. Located on a small island, Esbjerg is the same location where Astrid was imprisoned many years earlier.
The novel shifts time sequences as chapters first tell the story of the eventual fate of Astrid and son Sebastian then examine the present-day life of Emma and children. Astrid and Sebastian could have lived in their underground bunker forever if the lady kept supplying food every six months. But the lady had an accident requiring hospitalization. She missed the six-month date for supplying food. How would they survive? Would they survive? Read the story.
Meanwhile, Emma, Maya, and Victor are living their own drama. Victor seems to sometimes zone out mentally from the present. No one knows where he goes. Emma has decided to become a writer. There has been a horribly graphic murder on the island at about the time she arrived. Maybe she would write a novel around that. While investigating the murder, another one occurs. Could they be connected? Budding writer and amateur investigator Emma will try to find out. The familiar Willow Rose theme has appeared; these two killings might be part of a larger serial killing spree. The novel is fast-paced. There are several false trails to the identity of the killer. I followed all of them and missed clues leading to the real killer. Willow Rose is such a prolific author that she provides me many opportunities to try again in later novels, opportunities that I will take because her writing is captivating and fast-paced.
There is a list at the back of each Willow Rose novel I have read but there are too many titles for me to count. One good thing is that many of her books and short stories are available through Kindle Unlimited. I read this, Humpty Dumpty, and a collection of four other books (One, Two … and so on) on Kindle Unlimited. For frequent readers, this is an obvious economic good deal. Kindle Unlimited Membership Plans
I gave this novel four Amazon stars because although I liked it a lot, I found some characters too superficial. Sophia’s boyfriend might appear in a later novel, I did not get to know him in this one. I felt Sophia (aka the Baby Factory) annoying and a character that did not fit into this community. Her character type is necessary to balance Emma, but I never became a fan of Sophia.
So, why the spider(s)? They are in the story so how do they contribute? Read the novel. Even with my rating of only four stars, this is a good weekend thriller read.