A Book Spy Review: ‘Providence’ by Caroline Kepnes

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Providence.jpgTeenager Jon Bronson is in love with his classmate and best friend, Chloe Sayers. Sadly, Jon, who’s a bit of a loner beyond his friendship with Chloe, doesn’t have the guts to tell her how he really feels. One day, just as he’s mustering up the courage to come clean to Chloe about his feelings, Jon is kidnapped by his substitute middle school teacher and suddenly vanishes from his small New Hampshire town.

Four years later, Jon wakes up in a mysterious place with no memory of his kidnapping or his captor. No longer a boy, Jon is now a young man, much bigger and stronger. He discovers that he’s been in a medically-induced coma, and while his memory is blank, Jon can’t quit thinking about H.P. Lovecraft’s novel The Dunwich Horror, though he never read it in middle school. He even begins to identify with the book’s protagonist, Wilbur Whateley, though the initial reasons are unclear for both Jon and the reader. A letter from his captor, who is revealed very early on, explains that Jon now has a variety of special powers, but it’s not until he returns home and is surrounded by loved ones that the true nature of his powers rears its ugly head. 

When a series of unfortunate medical events plague those around him, including Chloe — who, it turns out, never stopped looking for him — John realizes that much like Wilbur Whateley, he inadvertently puts those he cares about in danger. Again, he vanishes, but this time of his own doing, as Jon makes his way to Providence, Rhode Island in an attempt to protect everyone he cares about by entering a life of self-proposed exile. 

As the story unfolds, Kepnes switches POVs between Jon (who longs for answers about his powers), Chloe (now a successful artist living in New York City), and a Rhode Island detective named Charles “Eggs” DeBenedictus, who is investigating multiple deaths surrounding otherwise healthy college students who all dropped dead of heart attacks. While separated, Kepnes does an impressive job of still making the characters feel very much connected, all the while asking readers two very simple questions: How far would you go for love. . . and how far would you go to protect those you love? 

Caroline Kepnes’ last two books (You and Hidden Bodies) have followed an unlikely couple who is more obsessed with being in love than love itself. Now, through examining the lives of her new cast of characters, Kepnes offers up another intriguing and provocative storyline that continues to ask questions that’ll stay with readers long after finishing her novel.  

Providence is a compelling mystery wrapped in a love story stuffed into a supernatural thriller. . . and Caroline Kepnes invokes a wide range of emotions with her strong prose and tantalizing descriptions. 

Book Details

Author: Caroline Kepnes
Pages: 384 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0399591435
Publisher: Lenny
Release Date: June 19, 2018
Book Spy Rating: 7.5/10

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Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck (“The Godfather of the thriller genre” — Ben Coes) has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.

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