The Vines by Shelley Nolden

Published: March 23, 2021

Freiling Publishing

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Shelley Nolden is an entrepreneur and writer, now residing in Wisconsin. Previously, she lived in the New York City area, where she worked on Wall Street and first learned of North Brother Island.

“If I die, the gift dies with me.”

Cora has lived most of her life in isolation. She has spent years close enough to see, but never be apart of, city life. In a tangled web, told over decades, Cora’s story gets unraveled in a twisted game of cat and mouse.

In a story told over decades, we get to know Cora, our main narrator. As far as debut novels go, this one is intense and packed with punches.

Interwoven with German lineage and a twisted sense of playing God, The Vines is a terrifying story of what happens when a man thinks he knows what is best. The ego outweighs the odds, and human life takes on a twisted meaning.

This is an enormously complicated story that drags you in and holds you down. When you think you know what is happening, a twist so dramatic happens, and you’re left sitting with no idea what will happen next.

The imagery used in the novel is so detailed and so explicit that you will feel like you’re standing on an isolated island among the rubble, like Cora.

What does family mean? What is a legacy? This book tackles so many important themes and deals with so many twisted issues that it is no wonder there will be a second book. I found the characters all very well developed, each with their struggles and vulnerabilities. There is such a raw human element to this story, and the characters within, that you cannot help but be drawn in.

The pacing is erratic, but it works with this plot, and the answers all start to reveal themselves as the twisted tale unfolds. There is something so scary about this story because something like this could happen. And the human element is terrifying because it is how some would genuinely react in this situation. In a world riddled with disease, what would you sacrifice for a cure?

If you like dark, medical thrillers, then The Vines is definitely for you. With a storyline that will engage you completely, characters you will love and hate, this novel is one hell of an introduction.

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