Review: The Insatiable Volt Sisters by Rachel Eve Moulton

cover of The Insatiable Volt SistersThe Insatiable Volt Sisters by Rachel Eve Moulton
MCD x FSG Orginals (April 2023)
464 pages: $16.20 paperback; $12.99 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

Rachel Eve Moulton mixes familial drama and supernatural horror in The Insatiable Volt Sisters, a long, eerie novel that lulls you in but never lets you get too comfortable.

Sisters Henrietta and Beatrice Bethany (“B.B.” for short) spent much of their childhood in an eccentric mansion called Quarry Hollow on remote Fowler Island. Their lives are turned upside-down in 1989 when, for reasons that remain fuzzy to Henrietta, she and her mother leave B.B. and the girls’ father, James, to build a life of their own away from the island. When B.B. calls Henrietta home in the year 2000 on the occasion of their father’s death, both girls are forced to confront the terrifying legacy James left behind.

The story is told across two timelines (1989 and 2000), and from multiple points of view. In addition to B.B. and Henrietta, we spend time with Henrietta’s mom, Carrie, and Fowler Island “curator” Sonia, a woman with deep ties to both the island and the Volt family.

While much of the text is spent detailing the strained relationships that make up the Volt family infrastructure, we do get tantalizing hints of the horror that is the true driving force of the story. There’s the fact that many women have chosen the high cliffs and deep waters of the island quarry as the place to commit suicide, for one thing — enough deaths have occurred there to earn the spot the nickname “The Killing Pond.” There’s the odd way that water seems to seep up from the ground, as though the island is trying to force its way back beneath the sea. And there’s the way the mansion itself seems to grieve the loss of the family patriarch, as Moulton writes: “The walls have begun to slush, the ceilings drip, as if thawing.”

I don’t mean to dismiss the family drama; it’s engaging stuff. Moulton gives us a solid cast of characters and plenty of time to get to know them. But the hints of the horrors to come are so well-placed and so good, I couldn’t help but anticipate the payoff more and more as the story moved along.

When it finally comes time to dig deep into the supernatural horror at the core of the story, Moulton does not shy away. I absolutely refuse to give away any of the revelations the author has in store. Suffice to say the journey is well worth taking, and the destination absolutely does not disappoint.

The Insatiable Volt Sisters is the kind of book you get lost in; the kind of book where you find yourself thinking about the characters even when you’re not reading about them; the kind of book that, the closer you get to the end, the harder it gets to put down. Highly recommended.

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