Layla by Colleen Hoover

As you may know from listening to my podcast, I am absolutely devouring books lately. I’ve been staying mainly in the vein of thrillers, and Layla by Colleen Hoover fell right into that genre…or so I thought. Here’s the synopsis:

When Leeds meets Layla, he’s convinced he’ll spend the rest of his life with her—until an unexpected attack leaves Layla fighting for her life. After weeks in the hospital, Layla recovers physically, but the emotional and mental scarring has altered the woman Leeds fell in love with. In order to put their relationship back on track, Leeds whisks Layla away to the bed-and-breakfast where they first met. Once they arrive, Layla’s behavior takes a bizarre turn. And that’s just one of many inexplicable occurrences.

Feeling distant from Layla, Leeds soon finds solace in Willow—another guest of the B&B with whom he forms a connection through their shared concerns. As his curiosity for Willow grows, his decision to help her find answers puts him in direct conflict with Layla’s well-being. Leeds soon realizes he has to make a choice because he can’t help both of them. But if he makes the wrong choice, it could be detrimental for all of them.

Read on to find out what I thought, but be warned: spoilers are ahead with this one. Don’t worry, I won’t give away the ending!

The Good

This was a super engaging read. I stayed up well into the night, until I literally could not keep my eyes open. The main character is flawed, but lovable in his own way, and his romance with Layla is sweet. I really felt I was getting an insight into Leeds’s thoughts, and not just “here’s what he was thinking,” but more so “here’s how he felt, let me punch you in the stomach.”

Then come the twists. A tragedy strikes the couple just two months into their relationship, and Layla just isn’t the same. In an effort to reconnect with Layla, they go back to where they met: a B&B that’s now mysteriously up for sale. They soon find out why it’s for sale. The house is haunted. Not only that, but the ghost begins to possess Layla while she sleeps, and soon, Leeds finds himself falling for the ghost.

Then, Leeds has a paranormal investigator come to the house to try to help Willow, the ghost, find peace.

Then! The investigator isn’t who he seems.

Then!!! The ghost’s true identity is revealed!

The twists kept coming with this one. If you like a mystery thriller ghost story that will keep you guessing, this book is for you.

I also thought the descriptions in the book were just right. What I mean by that is that I wasn’t slogging through a description of a rose by a door (looking at you, Nathaniel Hawthorne) but I also wasn’t confused about what the setting or characters look like. It can be a tough balance to strike, but I think the author did an awesome job.

The Bad

Just as you thought you had a handle on what was going to happen next, the author threw something else at you. While this was great in the sense it kept me guessing, it also felt kind of like the author threw everything but the kitchen sink at me. Talk about whiplash! This lost a star for me. It just felt like the author was trying to meet a word count, which is never something I want to feel as a reader.

The Verdict

Overall, I give this one a 4/5. If not for the excessive twisting and turning, it would be a solid 5/5. If you’re looking for something that is going to keep you guessing right up to the end, this is the book for you.

The Terminal

The air in the train station was still. It flowed around the two of us like water before settling back to its original shape: full, yet nothing. The shuttered windows of teller stalls glared as we passed, muttering about being in places after hours. Overhead, the night sky burned with stars and galaxies through a glass dome.

Our feet thudded against the concrete in unison until we reached the platform. The dome ended at the platform, and the open air reached in and ruffled his long black hair. Moonlight shone against a hand studded with silver rings, btu disappeared into the midnight of his clothes.

We looked up at the empty schedule board.

“Did you miss it?” I asked. My voice sounded minute, with an edge like hope.

He shook his head. “Not this time.” He leapt lightly down onto the tracks.

“Will you be okay?”

Instead of answering, he turned to gaze down the track; it disappeared into velvet blackness. In the distance, a train whistle screeched and a tiny white light raced toward him. It grew bigger by the moment.

He faced me again, and said, “Looks like my ride is here.”

The train’s whistle blared, loud as a nightmare. Its light was almost close enough to touch.

He closed his eyes.

Everything went white.