Gretchen: A Thriller

Gretchen: A Thriller

by Shannon Kirk


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“…[A] brilliantly constructed novel…Kirk draws the reader into a fascinating world of shifting truths whose details are by turns grotesque, funny, creepy, thoughtful, and exhilarating.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

The new tenants have a terrible secret. So do the landlord and his daughter…

Ever since Lucy was two, she’s been on the run alongside her mother. She’s never understood the reason for a lifetime of paranoia, aliases, and lies. All she understands are the rules: never lock eyes with strangers, never let down your guard, and always be ready to move on.

Finally, after thirteen years and eleven states, their next hideaway seems perfect. An isolated, fortresslike place in the New Hampshire woods is the new home they share with its owner, a gentlemanly pianist, and his lonely daughter, Gretchen. She’s Lucy’s age and soon becomes Lucy’s first real friend.

But Gretchen and her father have secrets of their own—and an obsession with puzzles that draws Lucy into a terrifying new game of hide-and-seek. Lucy’s dark past is about to come calling. And this time, for her and her mother in the house on the hill, it might be too late to run.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781542041348
Publisher: Amazon Publishing
Publication date: 07/23/2019
Pages: 364
Sales rank: 270,863
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Shannon Kirk is the international bestselling and award-winning author of In the Vines, The Extraordinary Journey of Vivienne Marshall, and Method 15/33. Growing up in New Hampshire, Shannon and her brothers were encouraged by their parents to pursue the arts, which instilled in her a love for writing at a young age. A graduate of Suffolk Law School in Massachusetts, Shannon is a practicing litigation attorney and former adjunct law professor, specializing in electronic-evidence law. When she isn’t writing or practicing law, Shannon spends time with her husband, son, and two cats. To learn more about her, visit

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Gretchen: A Thriller 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Blackcrayon 12 months ago
Action packed read that kept me on the edge of my seat and many times left me wonder “wait what just happened”?!? The author did an amazing job at weaving the multiple points of view and the past with the present to create on thrilling ride, full of amazing characters. Lucy will still your heart, Mag will kick your butt and Gretchen will haunt your dreams! Such an amazing read!
lsmoore_43 10 months ago
literarybelle 10 months ago
Lucy and her mother have been on the run all her life. It finally seems like they’ll get a chance to settle down. Lucy is enrolled in school and allowed to get a job. One thing is curious about their new home however. Their neighbors Jerry and his daughter, Gretchen, seem a little strange. Lucy begins to worry that maybe settling down here is not really all it’s cracked up to be. This story is insane. Gretchen gave me the heeby jeebies from the beginning. There are so many twists and turns that I wasn’t even sure what to think, I could not put this book down.
SardisYS 12 months ago
Gretchen by Shannon Kirk is a psychological thriller that weaves in elements of a thriller in this suspenseful telling. A 16 year old girl and her mother, on the run since she was two, have a strange encounter with new landlords that changes the path of their lives. It’s a high octane trip you need to take.
Bridgett Deem Nelson More than 1 year ago
The winter owl banked just in time to pass and save herself from breaking window glass. --Robert Frost Fellow readers, I honestly don't know how I feel about this book. My gut seems to be leaning more negative than positive. There were just so many competing story lines, at times, it felt...tortured. You know what I mean, right? Like, when you keep curling your hair, but it's not laying the way you desire, so you curl it some more...then some more...and pretty soon, you're rocking a frizzy, overworked mess on your head. That's how Gretchen felt to me...frizzy and tortured. Told from two points of view, those of Lucy and Mother, we learn about their nomadic lifestyle, living in 11 different states, while running from Lucy's barbaric father. Gretchen, our title character, is the coo-coo crazy daughter of their equally nutty landlord in New Hampshire. And when I say coo-coo, I mean balls-to-the-wall NUTS. My emotions ran the gamut while reading...there were moments when I laughed out loud (Lucy's reaction to her first family dinner at Gretchen's house), moments when I was totally creeped out (that mansion, it's rooms and hallways...those puzzles), and moments when I found myself rolling my eyes (pretty much the entire final 25% of the novel). The chapters dealing with Mother were deeply after page of internal dialogue and unnecessary text. The conclusion, while neatly wrapped up, still felt quite abrupt. After finishing, I'm still genuinely not sure how I'd classify this book...I'd say the ending is a thriller, but the first 2/3 felt more like creepy, atmospheric horror. This was an odd one, folks. I foresee there being very little gray here...readers are either going to love Gretchen or hate it. I, unfortunately, fall into the latter category. It took me forever to finish this book...I even missed reviewing prior to the publication deadline...simply because I had no desire to pick it up and read. For a bookworm like me, that's saying something. I don't want to conclude this review, however, without mentioning the stunning, and appropriate, book cover. **Despite my lackluster review, I want to thank NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer for my advanced copy. All opinions are my own.
a_library_on_elm_street More than 1 year ago
ARC of Gretchen by Shannon Kirk. #Gretchen #NetGalley Where to begin with this gripping thriller. Wow! Just when you thought you had characters figured out the plot twists around. I mean Gretchen is a creepy kid to begin with and as the book progressed she just got worse. I did think she was turning around in the middle for a bit. The ending was quite the shocker. Great read.
BookAddictFL More than 1 year ago
This book is... strange. Sometimes it's a good strange, and other times it's just flat-out weird. Explanations are difficult without spoilers, and I don't give spoilers, so this review attempt might be as strange as the book. Kirk's writing style is completely engrossing, which is what kept me reading. Even when I was scowling at certain things, I kept reading because... well, I don't know why. I just had to keep reading. The story pushes boundaries of plausibility, particularly throughout the second half. Several characters are a special kind of crazy. The action goes beyond plausibility. And yet, I kept reading. This is the most bizarre story I've read in a very long time. It's completely improbable. We go in a ton of directions that should've made my head spin, should have annoyed me. Should have made me stop reading. And yet I followed along. At the end, I thought, "What did I just read?" And I'm still wondering. But despite the weirdness, the implausibility, the dangling threads, the undeniable oddness of all of it, I still read every word. So maybe I liked it? I have no explanation. *I received a review copy from the publisher, via NetGalley.*
Bern425 More than 1 year ago
What Did I Just Read??? What is it about psychotic children that is so creepy yet appealing? Gretchen took disturbed to a whole new level. 15 year old Lucy and her mother have been on the run for 13 years. 11 states and endless hours cross country in their car later they end up in an isolated, fortresslike place in the New Hampshire woods. Their new landlords are a pianist, and his lonely daughter, Gretchen. It would be ideal, if each of these families weren't harboring so many secrets. Shannon Kirk has a way of leaving her readers on high alert. This story is pure tension. You don't know who is crazier - each character seems worse than the last. But Gretchen - she's the worst of them all. Gretchen is creepy, has zero social boundaries and is absolutely CRAZY! There's no other word for her, the girl is demented. I was all in for this one but the end kinda lost some of its mojo for me compared to the lead up in the beginning. Still, the book was insane and had me hooked throughout. It was like a crazy, far fetched nightmare and I couldn't look away. If you like your books with suspense, horror and lots of tension - definitely pick this one up!
Donatelli More than 1 year ago
Gretchen: A Thriller By: Shannon Kirk My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Content Rating: 18+ Genre: Thriller/Suspense Do you have a "Jenny" in your life? Do you have a "Gretchen" in your life? Or do you have both? Gretchen: A Thriller, written by Shannon Kirk, is a novel about the "Gretchens" and the "Jennys" in our lives and how these two types of people can either enrich our lives, or they can wreak havoc with our lives and terrify us down to our very "bones." Gretchen: A Thriller is the first book I have read by Shannon Kirk. It was well written, skillfully constructed, and impeccably researched. Kirk writes her characters in such a way that you think of them as your friends and your enemies. Kirk does an excellent job making her female characters strong and resilient but also kind and loving. Gretchen: A Thriller is meticulously thought out and delivered; doling out tidbits of the macabre and sinister and weaving them into a double plotline. However, it was also about a Mother's love, a love so pure and vast, that she would stop at nothing to protect her daughter. So, without giving too much away, our main character, Lucy, has been on the run with her mother, Susan, for thirteen years. They arrive at their latest seeming perfect secluded hideaway in New Hampshire. They are met by a quiet dad, Jerry and his somewhat odd daughter Gretchen, and Mother and daughter will be renting a cottage that sits off from the main house. Lucy desperately craves a friend so she is excited to find out that Gretchen is her age and is hoping they can be friends. This is when the book takes off. Moreover, that is all I am going to say, other than there will be many twists turns and lots and lots of fodder for your dreams or maybe your nightmares. Gretchen: A Thriller is a creepy, twisted, dark suspense novel that had me looking over my shoulder multiple times during this book, but also a book that I couldn't put down. I will put out a warning; there are some sensitive subjects in this book. However, they are handled well. Shannon Kirk is my new go-to author if I am looking for a dark, creepy read! ***I kindly received this galley by way of NetGalley/publisher/author. I was not contacted, asked, or required to leave a review. I received no compensation, financial or otherwise. I have voluntarily read this book, and this review is my honest opinion .***
CrystalKL More than 1 year ago
Thank you to NetGalley and the Publisher for allowing me to read an ARC of Gretchen. This book was a little slow for me in the beginning, but once I got going it was great! This was a well written and creepy book that had me wondering what the heck was going on! The ending was amazing fast paced and not far fetched. This was my first book by Shannon Kirk and now I want to read her other books!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
WOW! This book will keep your attention as you try to keep up with the characters and their many secrets. Shannon Kirk has done an excellent job of developing the characters in this book. They come to life...some a little too lifelike for comfort...and take you down several different roads to all come together at the end. A little slow at the start as she builds the back story, the pace picks up as you go. It will be interesting to see what she does next.
phrc665 More than 1 year ago
Well, some kids certainly can be a handful. Gretchen is a handful, and then some. When 15 year old Lucy and her mother Laura move into the rental they find that they'll be sharing the isolated property with the owners, Jerry and his daughter Gretchen who is also 15. Lucy has led a lonely life thus far, being on the run and in hiding from her her mother tells her. Lucy is excited that maybe, finally, she'll be able to have a friend in Gretchen since they're both unique in their own ways. Yes, Gretchen is weird...wearing the same dress every single day and she's unusually obsessed with puzzles. she's a gifted painter and her art and her puzzles are creepy and she's moody and obviously manipulative. Lucy see's all this, but feels as long as she sets "doesn't flinch" and all will be fine and when it comes to friends she can't be too choosy. While living on the property secrets are revealed that turn Lucy's live upside down and she begins to see a scarier side to Gretchen. When Lucy has a change at a new and so much better life events bring her back to Gretchen again and the true horrors are finally revealed. Some kids are a handful. Some kids are evil. This is a terrific thriller with many twists and a couple of major story lines that intersect in a terrific way. #netgalley #gretchen
BlondeswithBooks More than 1 year ago
Since the age of two, Lucy has been on the run with her mom. 13 years and 12 states later, they feel like they have finally found their home in New Hampshire. Their new landlord and his daughter Gretchen are quite peculiar. The closer Lucy becomes with Gretchen the more she sees just how strange she really is. However Lucy is determined to stick it out because she doesn’t want to give her mom another reason to run. The story that Lucy has been fed her whole life is that they are on the run because her father is a bad man who once kidnapped her when she was a toddler. Because of this kidnapping, people may recognize her so they have to be careful when they’re out in public. Her mother has very strict rules for Lucy - “Keep your head down, don’t engage. Don’t connect. And if anyone recognizes you, tell me.” When Lucy begins to question her back story she starts to realize the story she has been told just doesn’t add up. Lucy begins to realize her mom is not to be trusted and gets pulled even deeper into Gretchen’s creepy existence. The first half of this book completely pulled me in with the suspense of a mother and daughter on the run. When they finally settled into their new home, I was even more invested in the story, especially with the introduction of their creepy landlords. But this book took a huge left turn for me in the second half. The storyline became too far fetched and insane to the point of disbelief. While this book was initially suspenseful, the outlandish twists in the end just felt bizarre.
Bojoura More than 1 year ago
Me; I really need a disturbing, do not see this twist coming, creepy read. Give me an unsettling and dark story. Shannon; Yes dear, coming right up. Something completely different is how I would describe this story, this was such an amazing dark thriller. Creepy house full of secrects, deranged characters, disturbing settings. Everything I wish for in a thriller! The writing is so atmospheric and haunting, I need time to process this diabolical and you will not guess the plot twists read. I need more Shannon Kirk.
MKF More than 1 year ago
Lucy's mom has been keeping a big secret from her for the last 15 years. Why does she have to wear contacts to change the color of her eyes? Why are they always moving? Now, though Lucy has a secret from her mom. And it's not a good thing for her or her mom or really anyone. Lucy and her mom have moved into a house owned by Jerry, whose truly creepy daughter Gretchen slowly wraps Lucy into her orbit. Things go off the rails and get deeply weird as Gretchen begins to spool out information. This is a hard one to review without spoilers but know that it is a page turner. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. It's hard to pigeonhole the novel into a genre- it's suspense, it's horror, it's a freefall.
Felicia_Medina More than 1 year ago
*sighhhhhh* Gretchen. Ohhh Gretchen. A lot of us knew a Gretchen back in school. In my case her name was Francine Sharp (please don't let her be reading this and come butcher me in my sleep). Gretchens are friendless, awkward outcasts with a tendency to glob onto anybody that shows them the least little bit of attention. Oh, and lest I forget, they are always BATSHIT CRAZY. As fun as Gretchen is she's not the MC. That would be Lucy and it's been awhile since I've loved one as much as I did her. She's smart and snarky and uber relatable. This story is rife with mystery and tension and wacko characters and everything else I love about a psychological thriller.... UNTIL IT'S NOT. At 74% it's like a different author takes over with a whole new plot. And it ruined what was, up until that point, an exceptional book. For that reason I had to knock off a star from my rating. Gretchen is a complete departure from Kirk's In the Vines, which reached a new level of madness, but equally captivating. Kirk's writing is magnetic and the true star of her books. Despite it's failings near the end, this book is creepy fun and I can't wait for the next offering from this author. Side note to Francine Sharp: please don't kill me I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.