Her Dark Inheritance (Willoughby Chronicles Book 1)

by Meg Hafdahl (Goodreads Author)

Daphne’s mother is dying of brain cancer, but the tumor is changing the reserved artist into a woman who confesses a dark secret: her name is fake and she’s from a small town in Minnesota where the townspeople believe she slaughtered her entire family with an axe.

Despite Daphne’s own inner darkness and fear, she travels to Willoughby, MN and there meets a helpful young man Edwin, an enthusiastic amateur sleuth Librarian, and an old lady who claims to see dead people. But in this town people don’t go out alone after night, and there’s a strange preponderance of tragedies.

Can Daphne overcome her own weakness to discover what truly happened with her mother all those years ago before Willoughby claims another life?

This is straight up the best kind of horror: tense psychological mystery, quirky characters, creepy atmosphere all leading up to a satisfyingly horror movie gory end.

The prose here is quite visual, details conveyed in a way that made it easy to imagine the action. Take this bit of vivid imagery: “The blade appeared dull and as rusty as the shed’s door hinges. When she ran the pad of her thumb down the edge, it sliced into her skin, causing a teardrop of blood to drip from the swirls of her fingerprint. It was sharp after all.”

But what’s great about horror is the ability to plumb psychological depths in ways “regular” novels sometimes can’t. And this book goes both into the guilt one feels after making a terrible mistake as well as what weakness vs strength is in terms of survival. One part that made me especially happy along this vein was that Edwin is an adopted Korean boy in a town of blonde Minnesotans, and this book doesn’t ignore that, but incorporates a bit of race issues into the town’s relationship with Edwin.

There was a teaser for the next book in the back, and I’ll definitely be following along to find out if Edwin and Daphne have further Willoughby adventures.