You Let Me In by Camilla Bruce

Posted On 19 March 2020

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This book was brilliant. I loved it utterly and completely and frankly I’m flabbergasted that it’s a debut – it’s just so impressive and I can’t fault it at all.  That being said, you’ll have to decide whether this is something for you and I’ll try my best to help with this review but I really don’t want to give away spoilers so let’s see how that plays out.

I didn’t really know what to expect going into this and from the description was expecting something more akin to a mystery.  I guess this is a mystery in it’s own way, although maybe not of the traditional style that I was expecting.  What this actually delivers is a stunning and beautifully written tale within a tale and, frankly, there’s no clear cut decision to tell you which is truth and which is fabrication. I know what I think was going on here but I’m guessing this book will have different mileage depending on the reader.

So, what we know.

Cass, had a troubled childhood.  One of three children she had a picture postcard perfect sister and a quiet and withdrawn brother.  She was different than other children, didn’t make friends easily and seemed abrasive or confrontational – in fact other children were frightened by her and she was constantly at war with her mother, who seemed to be an angry, thin lipped woman.

As she grew into adulthood she seemed to have a brief respite, an interlude of ‘normality’ if you will, marrying a handsome man and becoming the perfect housewife – to the outside world at least.  Until everything ended in blood.

Cassandra Tipp is a famous and reclusive novelist. As the story begins she has been missing a year.  No body has been found but she is assumed dead and her wealth and property have been left to her niece and nephew upon condition that they read her final manuscript. Given Cass’s past you better believe that they’ll be reading this manuscript – anything to find out some answers to the strange  history that brought such death to this particular family.

Those are the things I can tell you without any potential spoilers.  I will try to keep my thoughts organised and give away as little as possible for the rest of this review.

I mentioned that Cass had a troubled childhood and this is one of the elements that plays into the ‘is it real’ or is it a figment of Cass’s imagination elements.  Cass has an unseen friend – not your usual ‘imaginary friend’ but a fae person who she calls The Pepper Man. This is an unusual relationship and sometimes quite uncomfortable to read about as Cass’s narrative starts from a relatively young age.  However, this is a consistent part of her life and leads her to make other fae ‘friends’ who dwell in the Mound within the woods.  I can’t deny that I loved this aspect of the story.  It’s so well written, so well imagined and makes for absolutely compelling reading.  These fae are definitely not relatives to Disney fae.  They are unusual looking and they feed off those they become attached to.  They operate on a totally different moral compass to humans but at the same time do form attachments. The relationship between Cass and the Pepper Man being a perfect example of such.  Both become dependent on the other even if it’s not always totally healthy.

The writing here is stunning.  I have to say that I was pretty much hooked from the beginning, I admit that I have a tendency to love stories where I’m reading a narrative style like the one here.  Here Cassandra is talking to her niece and nephew through the pages of a manuscript and relaying to them the story of her life.  If they choose, at the end of the narrative, to continue with the inheritance then they will have at least been warned of the potential consequences.  Sorry, went off track there a little.  I was talking about the writing – it’s beautiful, it’s evocative and it was perfect for me.  This is one of those books that is totally immersive.  I went in and couldn’t get back out.  Sometimes I was angry, sometimes I was sad, but I was always fascinated and couldn’t gobble up the words quickly enough.  And, on top of this everything was perfectly imagined in my mind’s eye.  There were no little irritabilities that sometimes pull you out of the story. I simply loved it and this is an author that I will now watch with great interest.

The characters – well, Cass is the main character and you’ll need to decide if she’s an unreliable narrator or not.  Personally, I don’t really think she’s unreliable in a certain respect – because she believes with all her heart the story she’s telling.  You, the reader, will have to decide what else lies between the lines on the page and reach your own conclusion in that respect.

The only other thing I would mention here is that there is a sense of discomfort at certain points during this read.  Admittedly, nothing here is written for shock value and in fact everything that the author writes is necessary to the story.  Just be aware that some of the aspects to this are dark and they may be triggers for some readers.

To conclude.  I’m not sure if I’ve really spread any light on this novel or whether or not you might want to pick it up – I think the only thing I could say is this could be a very dark tale of the fae, or it could be a tale of a young girl with mental health problems brought on my trauma.

That being said I absolutely loved this book. I could literally read it again right now and I’m desperate to talk to everyone about it.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 5 out of 5*



15 Responses to “You Let Me In by Camilla Bruce”

  1. Tammy

    Brilliant review, Lynn. I wish I could talk everyone into reading this as well, it’s just that good.

  2. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    Having read a few other reviews of this book, I’m by now aware of the uncomfortable elements of the story you quoted in your post, so it’s good to know that they are functional to the story and not used for “shock value” – this detail, together with your comments about the beautiful writing style, matters a great deal in my choice to give this one a try.
    Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  3. Barb @ Booker T's Farm

    Wow, this book is getting such high praise. I’m definitely picking it up. If you and Tammy are raving about it, that’s all I need 🙂

  4. Book Club Mom

    OMG I want to read this. I think debut novels are full of high quality writing. Sounds like this is one of them!

  5. sjhigbee

    So thrilled that you enjoyed this one so much, Lynn:)). I, like you, think the writing is exceptional and that although the subject matter is difficult, it’s been extremely well handled. It’s my favourite book of the year so far…

  6. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    I’ve heard some things about this one that might not work too well for me, but your 5 star review is promising! Turns out I actually had this one in my NetGalley pile (I totally forgot I requested it, lol!) so I’ll be reading it at some point.

  7. waytoofantasy

    You’ve got me hooked with this one. Unfortunately my library doesn’t have it yet in digital to reserve so I’ll have to wait and see, maybe will be able to snag a hard copy from them once they re-open (whenever that will be)

  8. emilyslittlebooknook

    This sounds really good after this covid stuff is over with ill have to see if my library has it.

  9. Can’t Wait Wednesday : In the Garden of Spite by Camilla Bruce | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] forward to.  This week my book is : In the Garden of Spite by Camilla Bruce.  I absolutely loved You Let Me In so I’m super excited about this one.  Here’s the […]

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    […] You Let Me In by Camilla Bruce – this book blew my mind.  Read it.  […]

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    […] You Let Me In by Camilla Bruce – okay, another cut and paste job is required here from my original review – ‘This book was brilliant. I loved it utterly and completely and frankly I’m flabbergasted that it’s a debut – it’s just so impressive and I can’t fault it at all’.  I loved this book so much.  I admit that sometimes I pick a book up with reservations, maybe it’s receiving lot of hype or all my blogger buddies are loving it – and, I’ll be honest – sometimes this level of love and respect from everyone I know sometimes just makes me hesitate.  Like I’m in two minds.  One half of me trusts all these people and just knows the book is going to work, the other half of me is thinking, ‘but what if’?  Do you ever have that feeling.  Almost like a stubborn resistance to picking a book up.  This book broke down all my petty resistances, it just knocked me over and then some. […]

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