Author: Caitlin Marceau (2022)
A young woman agrees to a weekend getaway with her estranged mother, hoping to finally reconnect after a lifetime of difficulty.
Caitlin Marceau’s new book This Is Where We Talk Things Out is an ode to daughters with narcissistic parents, harnessing the world of hurt and sadness that these familial relationships force their victims to live within to tell a heart-rending story of loss and the desire to be loved. Miller has cut herself off from her mother after her father succumbs to his long battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. She has moved in with her girlfriend Florence, trying her best to live a happy life despite her past trauma. When Silvie, her disapproving mother, suggests a weekend getaway at a winter cabin so that they can try to repair their relationship, she hesitantly agrees to go despite the protestation of her partner. Unbeknownst to Miller, however, Silvie doesn’t want to form a new, adult relationship with her daughter but to rekindle the mother-child relationship from their past that her stubborn selfishness insists has been there all along. It is through the examination of this relationship that Marceau examines the reality of a failed mother-daughter bond and of the true futilities in any relationship with a narcissistic parent.
Despite the obvious and apparent mistrust and heartbreak that their previous relationship has cultivated within Miller, Sylvie retains a rose-colored view of their previous life. She was the perfect mother, always looking out for what was best for her daughter and becoming the victim in any argument that the two previously fought. Her daughter is cruel, vicious, and stubborn, aiming her arrows at her innocent mother who only seeks to protect and nurture. It is this belief in her innocence that most characterizes these relationships with narcissistic parents, a relationship that Marceau expertly skewers throughout the book. While the plot itself can be fairly predictable, including the barely-there twist of an ending, the entire novella is worthwhile for this paradigmatic exploration of a damaged kinship if for nothing else. The book is competently written, a small-scale, almost single-location thriller where things aren’t what they seem, and Marceau smartly isolates her characters within a cabin recreated out of Miller’s childhood. This bizarre discovery aligns the reader with Marceau’s heroine and alerts them immediately that something is not quite right here. What’s off? Check the book out and see for yourself.
Who this book is for: Psychological horror book readers; Family drama fans; Joan Crawford
Bottom line: Short enough to read in one sitting and with some great character development, This Is Where We Talk Things Out is a quick and compelling little read for anyone suffering from a lifetime with narcissistic parents. It’s got enough horror elements to please that crowd while containing some great dramatic scenes as well. The psychological trauma experienced by main character Miller is well-told, and while much of the story is predictable, the familial symbolism is where the meat of this story lies. It’s disturbing at times where it needs to be, and the predictability of the ending does nothing to harm the overall effectiveness of the book itself. Definitely an interesting read, highly recommend that you check this one out from Dark Lit Press.