I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.
A group of mothers within a popular cul-de-sac find their little community threatened by a mysterious figure who threatens to reveal the dark secrets of their past in author Tara Laskowski’s “The Mother Next Door”.
For fans of Lisa Jewell, Aimee Molloy, and Joshilyn Jackson, an upmarket suspense novel from a multi-award-winning author about a tightknit group of suburban mothers who invite a new neighborhood mom into their fold, and the fallout the night of the annual block party, when secrets from the past come back to haunt them…
The annual block party is the pinnacle of the year on idyllic suburban cul de sac Ivy Woods Drive. An influential group of neighborhood moms—known as the Ivy Five—plan the event for months.
Except the Ivy Five have been four for a long time.
When a new mother moves to town, eager to fit in, the moms see it as an opportunity to make the group whole again. This year’s block party should be the best yet… until the women start receiving anonymous messages threatening to expose the quiet neighborhood’s dark past—and the lengths they’ve gone to hide it.
As secrets seep out and the threats intensify, the Ivy Five must sort the loyal from the disloyal, the good from the bad. They’ll do anything to protect their families. But when a twisted plot is revealed, with dangerous consequences, their steady foundation begins to crumble, leaving only one certainty: after this year’s block party, Ivy Woods Drive will never be the same.
From award-winning author Tara Laskowski, The Mother Next Door is an atmospheric novel of domestic suspense in which the strive for perfection ends in murder…
This was a chilling and adrenaline-fueled thriller that will give readers whiplash with the twists and turns that the narrative takes them on. The atmosphere and tone really do a great job of highlighting the contrast between the picturesque suburban dream the Ivy Five portrayed to the public and the hellish nightmare their secrets and lies have created in the background of the community. The author perfectly captures the privilege that wealth and status buy people who have done terrible things in this life, and captured the societal emotions that have taken hold in recent years at the injustice of such secretive actions.
Yet it was the narrative and character growth that really stole the show here. The razor-sharp wit of the moms, especially Kendra, as they move people around like pawns in a game of their own making is highlighted perfectly in Theresa’s chapters especially, as the protagonist shows the struggles to adapt and make herself belong in this group, as mistakes of her own past begin to haunt her as well. The weight of those secrets and lies highlights the elevated anger and fear that builds up with keeping such a secret for so long, and the author’s use of this to add tension into the narrative was a stroke of genius.
Pretty Little Liars meets Revenge with a Halloween twist, author Tara Laskowski’s “The Mother Next Door” is the perfect suburban thriller this fall. The memorable characterization of the “perfect” suburban dream team and the haunting emotions that build as the secrets begin to pile up on one another more and more make this a truly memorable read. Be sure to grab your copy today!
About the Author
TARA LASKOWSKI is the author of One Night Gone, which won an Agatha Award, Macavity Award, and Anthony Award, and was a finalist for the Mary Higgins Clark Award, Left Coast Crime Award, Strand Critics’ Award, and Library of Virginia Literary Award. She is also the author of two short story collections, Modern Manners for Your Inner Demons and Bystanders, has published stories in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine and Mid-American Review, among others, and is the former editor of SmokeLong Quarterly. Tara earned a BA in English from Susquehanna University and an MFA from George Mason University and currently lives in Virginia. Find her on Twitter and Instagram, @TaraLWrites.
Author website: https://taralaskowski.com/
Politics & Prose: https://www.politics-prose.com/book/9781525804700
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-mother-next-door-tara-laskowski/1138551311?ean=9781488078125&st=AFF&2sid=HarperCollins%20Publishers%20LLC_7651142_NA&sourceId=AFFHarperCollins%20Publishers%20LLC
One More Page: https://www.onemorepagebooks.com/book/9781525804700
Q&A with Tara Laskowski
Q: Please give us a one sentence pitch for your novel, The Mother Next Door.
A: An atmospheric suspense novel about a tight-knit group of suburban mothers who invite a new neighborhood mom into their fold, and the fallout the night of the annual Halloween block party, when secrets from the past come back to haunt them.
Q: Why do you believe thrillers are so popular?
A: They naturally invoke our curiosity–our sense of “I have to know what happens.” Plus, I think people like to read about bad things happening to other people. It’s the same with horror movies or books–it’s a fun way to put yourself in a terrifying situation without actually having to be in a terrifying situation. As long as our brains know we are safe, we can enjoy that rush of adrenaline without the sheer panic.
Q: Where do you get your ideas? Of course, from your imagination, but do you read, see or hear something that clicks? How did you come up with the idea for The Mother Next Door? Is this book based on any true events?
A: I usually start with setting, weirdly. I need a place that I can envision, and that I can see bad things happening in. If I’ve got the place, then I can insert characters and make things happen.
For The Mother Next Door, I took all of the things I love most–Halloween, cool houses, urban legends–and put them in a domestic suspense set in a creepy suburban neighborhood. The book isn’t really based on any true events, but it definitely riffs off stuff in my real life. We live in a neighborhood with a cul-de-sac that throws a Halloween potluck every year, for example, though as far as I know nothing nefarious has happened over there!
Q: Are you a plotter or pantser?
A: I don’t do well with outlines. I need to feel my way through a book with a blindfold on (though occasionally I guess I pull it down and try to get a glimpse of what’s ahead.) By this, I mean, I like to write a little, then figure out the next few “beats” or things that might happen, then write those, then figure out a little more, etc. And delete and rewrite and cry a little and doubt myself and think I’m the greatest thing since barbeque chips and start the whole process over again. And each time, so far, it’s ended up in a book, so fingers crossed!
Q: Any great tips for aspiring writers?
A: 1) Find your tribe 2) Learn to take criticism and rejection gracefully 3) Read. A lot. 4) Sign up for a monthly massage program.
Q: What is your favorite place to write?
A: It’s super boring, but my home office. I like to have control over my environment. I know writers who can write in coffee shops or libraries or outside, but I need to be at a desk in relative quiet most of the time. If it’s too noisy or too cold or there’s a chance that a spider will crawl on me, I can’t concentrate. That said, we have an excellent screened-in porch and I do like writing out there sometimes.
Q: Are you working on another book now or taking a break?
A: I’m working on my third novel, which is set in upstate New York at a winery and estate and features a group of old friends who return there for a reunion only to realize they are caught up in a decade-old revenge plot.
Q: What is your favorite season and why?
A: Hands-down: Fall. Sweaters! Crunchy leaves! Pumpkin everything! Football! Also, Halloween is my birthday, and I adore anything and everything spooky. So, there you go.
Here is an Exclusive Excerpt From “The Mother Next Door”
Ladies and gentlemen, skulls and boys: by the time our Halloween block party is over tonight, one of us will be dead.
And I don’t mean dead as in dull, or dead as in zombified. I mean dead as in gone. Dead as in expired. Killed.
You may be feeling distressed about this, knowing what you know about Ivy Woods—the great neighborhood it is, the sweet, loving families that live there. How could such a tragedy happen in such a wonderful place? You may have traveled here yourself, as a child or as a parent, lured in by the local fame of the street and its ghoulish decorations each year. The lights, the smoke, the gravestones, and the moaning. The witches, cackling and handing out candy. The swarms of little Frankensteins and cowboys and robots and ballet dancers lugging their pillowcases and plastic pumpkin buckets filled with sugar and junk.
But Ivy Woods isn’t perfect.
Far from it.
Look closer. Look under the makeup and the masks, look into the windows of the perfect houses. Dig under the surface of those freshly mowed lawns and you’ll find the worms. I’ve looked—believe me, I’ve looked. There’s something about this street. There are secrets. I know from watching through the windows, from hearing the hushed conversations, from lingering on their faces when they think everyone else has looked away.
Oh they think they are perfect. They pat themselves on the back for throwing such good parties, for raising such fine children, for living in such big houses.
But they are pretending.
They don masks on this one single night to dress up as someone or something else, but in reality they live their lives this way.
We all do.
We hate ourselves. We are too fat, or too thin. We should work hard, be smarter. We are lonely and depressed. We are worried about money. We are ashamed of the way that our friends and family treat us. But we lie about it all. We hide behind a protective façade, fragile glass figurines inside elaborate dollhouses designed to look like perfect, safe, happy places.
Tonight it will all shatter.
Watch closely and you’ll begin to see what I see. There’s trouble in the air, a cold wind blowing in from far away, and it’s settled on Ivy Woods Drive. The secrets and the lies we tell ourselves and others will emerge tonight like spirits of the dead. Lines will be drawn. Sides will be taken. Someone won’t make it out alive.
I can’t save that person, but I’ll tell the story. Turn over the rocks, expose the worms. Pull back the masks.
Because I know their secrets, secrets that will destroy them all.
If they don’t destroy themselves first.
Excerpted from The Mother Next Door by Tara Laskowski, Copyright © 2021 by Tara Laskowski. Published by Graydon House Books.