Audiobook Review: The Cabin on Souder Hill by Lonnie Busch
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 3.5 of 5 stars
Genre: Mystery, Paranormal
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Blackstone Publishing (September 29, 2020)
Length: 11 hrs and 4 mins
Author Information: Website
Narrator: Sarah Mollo-Christensen
The Cabin on Souder Hill was a weird book, but in a good way—for the most part. I’m just glad that I came prepared for some of that strangeness, otherwise I probably would have been more nonplussed, because not gonna lie, this one was a very different kind of mystery.
At the heart of this story are Michelle and Cliff Stage, a married couple whose eighteen-year marriage is now on the rocks. Trying to repair the relationship after finding out her husband has been unfaithful has been hard, but Michelle is hoping that spending time together—just the two of them, without their teenage daughter Cassie—will do the trick. Hence, their new vacation cabin in the isolated mountains of North Carolina. One freezing night though, Cliff notices a mysterious light in the woods, and goes out to investigate. When he fails to return hours lately, a frantic Michelle contacts the sheriff’s department about his disappearance but gets no help. She decides to take matters into her own hands, venturing out into the woods to search for Cliff on her own. However, when those efforts eventually come to naught, Michelle staggers back to the cabin, worried and exhausted, only to come home to a reality she doesn’t recognize.
For one thing, Cliff is there to greet her with relief, claiming that she had been the one who was missing. He had contacted the sheriff, who now stands in their home, having no memory of speaking to her earlier about Cliff’s disappearance. To Michelle’s astonishment, her husband is also a changed man. No longer the brash and controlling brute who had cheated on her, he has become gentler and more sensitive. And he is missing a finger. When pressed on it though, Cliff is reluctant to explain, thinking that shock and exposure had affected her memory. Panicked with confusion, Michelle demands answers, and her whole world is shattered when he finally explains that he been in a car accident over a year ago—an accident that also killed their daughter.
Deep down, Michelle knows that can’t be true. She had just spoken to Cassie on the phone earlier that day. But apparently there had been a funeral, and Michelle is even shown the grave. Still, she refuses to accept that Cassie is gone, or that this is even her world. Michelle knows that it must have something to do with what happened to her in the woods that night. Returning to mountains, she seeks out the help of realtor Pink Souder (who had supposedly built their cabin), as well as his family of Wiccan practitioners who may hold the key to the mystery of their shifting realities.
I’ve tried to keep it as straightforward as possible, but this is a tale that grows more twisted and complicated by the second. I’ll tell you right now, if you are looking for a logical explanation by the end of this whole mess, you’re not going to get it. The first half of the book was easy enough to understand at least, but past the halfway point, the plot really turns into a quagmire which takes some effort to follow.
In spite of that though, I had quite a bit of fun with this one. The element of magic and Wicca was a welcome addition to the story, even if it didn’t feature as prominently as I expected. The mystery was what really mattered, with Michelle’s terrifying situation carrying most of the momentum, though we also had sections where other characters’ perspectives took over. One of these belongs to Pink, though by the end of the book, I couldn’t help but wonder just how relevant these other POVs were. Not going to spoil anything here, of course, but it really didn’t take long to figure out how everything would go down—even if you didn’t know the details, you could determine the mood. There was a sense of futility and hopelessness to it all, and ironically, accepting that was what ultimately made it easier to let go and simply let the story take me where it wanted.
Again, sorry for being vague, but The Cabin on Souder Hill was just a very odd book. It’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but there’s no question that it’s an interesting read if you’re in the mood for a weird journey or are into mind-bending speculative mysteries.
Audiobook Comments: The Cabin on Souder Hill is the kind of audiobook that could have used multiple narrators to make it a more immersive, but Sarah Mollo-Christensen carried a great performance, nonetheless. Her portrayal of Michelle was incredible, where she was able to convey the full range of thoughts and emotions going through the character’s mind as she lived through her ordeal. It was a good listen overall.