Book Review of “Tucked Inn” by Nadine AuCoin

The story takes place in Nova Scotia, Canada. All is not what it seems at first glance. First things first. This is a story about succession. This is not a story to send to your Sunday school teacher. Intrepid Lucy is a Banisher, and she has visions. She comes from a family of Banishers. Lucy gets into trouble as she happens upon Tucked Inn. She thinks she’ll get help here after her car breaks down on a deserted road, but unbeknownst to her she stumbles very quickly upon hellish terrain in a nutshell. You get to grips almost immediately with the daring writing of the innovative Nadine AuCoin. Her characters find themselves in drama and conflict. Lucy is by far in over her head right from the beginning. She wants to escape the underworld realm and sinister atmosphere she finds herself in, and searches for ways to find an exit out. Her parents are loving towards each other, and she has wonderful memories of a grandfather. The characters are quirky but you fall in love with Lucy’s unique heart, mind and spirit.

The writing style moves the novella along at a rhythmic pace. It’s sensational writing at its core. It is never frivolous. Drama and suspense builds tension, and the element of anxiety and violence is used to create an atmosphere of fear and horror, keeping the reader glued to the edge of their seat. The story also has the element of the macabre. What makes this book an example of good horror writing is the aspects of the suspense, the overly dramatic, the combination of the mundane and ordinary tapping into the grotesque. The story, I would say, goes so far as to use fear and anxiety to make an emotional connection with the audience. It plays tricks on the reader as well as being a thrilling psychological mind game. The book will also evoke a sense of disgust and shock in the reader. Horror can be difficult to write, and to read; but if you have an insatiable appetite for it, this book is for you. Horror is more than just a scary story; it’s about fear.

With suspense. there is both the expectation and anticipation of fear. Nadine AuCoin certainly has a flair for this kind of writing. I might just read the next installment. I am toying with that idea. There are creepy, crawly things, a spooky house with locked doors, long hallways and hidden walls, the dark and the familiar made strange. It most certainly taps into the reader’s darkest fears. Lucy seems extraordinary at times with the reality of her situation quickly dawning on her. She is brave, bold in her forward-thinking, thinks fast and on her feet, letting nothing get her down. On the surface of things, Allister seems to be her match, but he does not have her powers. He can read her mind, and as the attraction grows between forthright and independent Lucy and Allister, the reader can sense their growing chemistry. 

Keep up. The spooky story begins on a foggy dirt road that seems to lead to nowhere. Of course that road is found next to a forest. It paves the way to Lucy’s nightmare world filled with crazies, sex-crazed savages,  the devil, a hell made of underworld realms of hidden caves, exorcisms and back. The only horror stories I used to read were Stephen King’s in high school. Now mind you, this novella certainly has aspects of horror in it as well as lusty passion, and the supernatural. I promise you it won’t be a waste of your time if that’s what you’re looking for.

The story has a sound beginning, middle and end. It flows, it has racy in parts if you demand that from your storytelling, and will keep you guessing at what will happen next. There are chapters where what goes bump in the night threatens to overwhelm you at every turn of the page. The writer keeps you captivated at every turn and twist of the story. Horror leaps at you from off the page as well as Lucy’s ingenuity and her enthralling romance with the handsome and well-dressed gentlemanly mama’s boy Alllister. Drake and Darko are the stuff nightmares are made of and, are the complete opposite of their older brother. This is a book to sink your teeth into on a sultry autumn day with a mug of tea at hand under a duvet. Once you get into it though, you want the story to end with Lucy and Allister falling in love and getting the fairy tale ending. 

One can only hope that good triumphs in the end. I was kept guessing until the very end at what would happen to everyone in the book, even the bad guy. What a delightful page turner of a book this was, although it did make me cringe in certain parts. You can read this novella easily in one sitting as I did on a sunny Saturday afternoon with warm sunlight streaming into a cozy bedroom in a coastal town in South Africa. 

Although there is a great deal of adversity to overcome before the end, Lucy takes it in her stride and finally accepts her role in the world as a force for good. Lucy is a survivor. She comes from a centuries-old family of survivors. Evil threatens to overwhelm but peace eventually reigns in the end. At the end of the wheel of time, good triumphs over evil.

Abigail George
Abigail George
Abigail George is a researcher and historian. Follow her on Facebook, Linkedin and Instagram @abigailgeorgepoet.