Inspired by a terrifying true story from the author’s hometown, a heart-pounding novel of suspense about a small Minnesota community where nothing is as quiet—or as safe—as it seems.
Cassie McDowell’s life in 1980s Minnesota seems perfectly wholesome. She lives on a farm, loves school, and has a crush on the nicest boy in class. Yes, there are her parents’ strange parties and their parade of deviant guests, but she’s grown accustomed to them.
All that changes when someone comes hunting in Lilydale.
One by one, local boys go missing. One by one, they return changed—violent, moody, and withdrawn. What happened to them becomes the stuff of shocking rumors. The accusations of who’s responsible grow just as wild, and dangerous town secrets start to surface. Then Cassie’s own sister undergoes the dark change. If she is to survive, Cassie must find her way in an adult world where every sin is justified, and only the truth is unforgivable.
“Set in Lilydale, Minn., in the 1980s…the suspense never wavers in this page-turner.” —Publishers Weekly
“The atmospheric suspense novel is haunting because it’s narrated from the point of view of a 13-year-old, an age that should be more innocent but often isn’t. Even more chilling, it’s based on real-life incidents. Lourey may be known for comic capers (March of Crimes), but this tense novel combines the best of a coming-of-age story with suspense and an unforgettable young narrator.” —Library Journal
“Part suspense, part coming-of-age, Jess Lourey’s Unspeakable Things is a story of creeping dread, about childhood when you know the monster under your bed is real. A novel that clings to you long after the last page.” —Lori Rader-Day, Edgar Award–nominated author of Under a Dark Sky
“A noose of a novel that tightens by inches. The squirming tension comes from every direction—including the ones that are supposed to be safe. I felt complicit as I read, as if at any moment I stopped I would be abandoning Cassie, alone, in the dark, straining to listen and fearing to hear.” —Marcus Sakey, bestselling author of Brilliance
“Unspeakable Things is an absolutely riveting novel about the poisonous secrets buried deep in towns and families. Jess Lourey has created a story that will chill you to the bone and a main character who will break your heart wide open.” —Lou Berney, Edgar Award-winning author of November Road
“Inspired by a true story, Unspeakable Things crackles with authenticity, humanity, and humor. The novel reminded me of To Kill A Mockingbird and The Marsh King’s Daughter. Highly recommended.” —Mark Sullivan, bestselling author of Beneath a Scarlet Sky
“Jess Lourey does a masterful job building tension and dread, but her greatest asset in Unspeakable Things is Cassie—an arresting narrator you identify with, root for, and desperately want to protect. This is a book that will stick with you long after you’ve torn through it.” —Rob Hart, author of The Warehouse
“With Unspeakable Things, Jess Lourey has managed the near-impossible, crafting a mystery as harrowing as it is tender, as gut-wrenching as it is lyrical. There is real darkness here, a creeping, inescapable dread that more than once had me looking over my own shoulder. But at its heart beats the irrepressible—and irresistible—spirit of its 12-year-old heroine, a young woman so bright and vital and brave she kept even the fiercest monsters at bay. This is a book that will stay with me for a long time.” —Elizabeth Little, Los Angeles Times bestselling author of Dear Daughter and Pretty as a Picture
Jess Lourey writes about secrets. She is a bestselling Agatha, Anthony, and Lefty Award-nominated author of crime fiction, magical realism, young adult, and nonfiction. She is a tenured professor of creative writing and sociology, a recipient of The Loft’s Excellence in Teaching fellowship, a Psychology Today blogger, and a TEDx presenter (check out her TEDx Talk for the inspiration behind her first published novel). When not leading writing workshops, reading, or spending time with her friends and family, you can find her working on her next story. Discover more at www.jessicalourey.com.