“Verity” is a standalone romantic thriller by New York Times bestselling author, Colleen Hoover. The novel is full of manipulation, a morally questionable romance and twists and turns that keep the reader at the edge of their seat.
Hoover has gained popularity within the last few years for her romance novels, but I didn’t know about her until a friend said, “She isn’t your style, but trust me.” So I did. I read her novel titled “Ugly Love” and finished it within two hours during a car ride. It was not only a good read, but I liked how Hoover’s writing style flowed and was easy to digest. After giving my positive review, I was then recommended “Verity” and my perception of Hoover changed entirely.
She had written a fine romance novel, one that followed cliches and made me feel hopeful at the end. “Verity” however, was a completely different ballpark and had me sleeping with one eye open the night that I finished it.
The novel begins by introducing us to the protagonist, a struggling 32-year-old thriller author named Lowen Ashleigh. Lowen is awkward, clumsy and critical of herself and her work. She spent a year taking care of her mother who died from a battle with colon cancer and finds herself in financial straits. After realizing her two options were getting evicted or taking whatever writing job she can, she is given the offer of a lifetime; to finish a series written by the famous author Verity Crawford. Little does she know, this deal will later make her question her sanity.
Verity’s husband and Lowen’s love interest, Jeremy Crawford, is a loving father to his son and a devoted caregiver to his wife. He is everything Lowen would want in a man; he’s strong, reliable and solid. His only vice is his marital status, which doesn’t prove to be a problem as the book progresses.
Jeremy explains to Lowen that Verity is in a vegetative state after surviving a tragic car accident and that he is in charge of finding an author to continue the work his wife couldn’t finish. Lowen is then invited to stay at the Crawford home to go through Verity’s countless notes in preparation for her drafting. The setting was intentional–there was something creepy and eerie about the Vermont home on the lake. Lowen felt like she was being watched, and as an active reader, I thought I was being watched too.
While rummaging through Verity’s office, she comes across a manuscript that Verity has written. It’s an autobiography detailing the night she met her husband, the death of her twin daughters and her true feelings toward motherhood.
At this point in the story, I felt sick to my stomach. There were sinister admissions by Verity and Lowen did not trust her. Since this novel was from Lowen’s point of view, it was easy for a reader to distrust Verity as well. Lowen was completely rational; Verity was a threat. Verity was now the enemy in this narrative.
Lowen reads this intimate and twisted look into the lives of the Crawford family which leads her to question if Verity is even paralyzed at all. Instead of focusing on her assignment, she tries to uncover the truth about who Verity Crawford really is. Lowen goes back and forth between dying with Verity’s secrets or exposing her to her husband.
Like Lowen, I was wondering what the best decision was. She could either potentially put a father and son in danger or put her job at risk. It was a battle between right and wrong in a completely gray area. This created a shift within the character.
Lowen started out unsure of herself and was on a mission to complete a series. After discovering the manuscript and forming an intimate relationship with her enemy’s husband, she gains newfound confidence, prompting her to share the gruesome truth with Jeremy.
The suspicious tone of the novel made me skeptical chapter after chapter. After the climax, the unfolding lies made me feel like Verity was after me, the reader.
Similar to “Ugly Love”, “Verity” was an incredibly smooth read, done in one shot. Once I picked the book up, I did not want to put it down. We witness Lowen’s internal moral battle, her sexual fantasies and a darker, more self-assured version of herself. Lowen’s actions kept me questioning her character and by the end, I was questioning the truth.
Hoover wrote a novel so chilling, that it makes me feel uncomfortable when I think of it. She did something more than impressive– she turned the safety and security of a fictional world dark and sinister.
“Verity” is the kind of book that will get you out of a reading slump and leave you wanting more. Hoover’s traditional romantic outline, embroidered with themes of deceit, infidelity and tragedy, made it the perfect ominous read.