Well, I don’t suppose I have much more to say about this one than I already did in my early review, other than to assure you that the positive feelings persisted! Tana French kept me guessing til the end, and she had me deeply invested in her characters. The final denouement was satisfying. Cassie felt real to me; all the characters felt real to me. I was sorry it was over, and especially sorry that I’ve now read all three of French’s novels. This is in my opinion her best. I hope there are more to come – and I hope Heather O’Neill narrates them.
I ended up feeling that The Likeness is really very reminiscent of Rebecca in some aspects: the house as a character, as a force, with a personality and motivations all its own, with a history that intrudes upon the lives of the present residents even when they’re unaware of that history… and more (avoiding spoilers). Further, the mood and tone of this book share a slightly spooky atmosphere, a sense of foreboding, a feeling of something unknown looking over one’s shoulder, with Rebecca. But it’s not derivative. No, The Likeness is a fresh, new piece of work, with accomplishments all its own. I would love to hear Tana French’s explanation of the role she feels Rebecca plays in this novel, though.
I’ve been asked if I think it’s necessary to read In the Woods first. That’s French’s first novel, and introduces some of the characters we meet here. I don’t think it’s all at necessary. (Full disclosure: I’m a fan of reading series out of order.) I read In the Woods about 2 years ago, and don’t really remember it at all. Those characters that transfer over into this book are in very different circumstances now, and their histories are explained enough that I felt comfortable. That said, there is much reference to “that big thing that happened that changed everything,” and “that thing” is not explicated at all. I wasn’t bothered by it; some readers may feel motivated to go read the first book to answer their questions. I didn’t find it necessary. If that’s the kind of thing that bothers you, by all means go read In the Woods first. I found The Likeness far superior, but to each her own; maybe you’ll feel the opposite. I guess my main point here is that while these two books share characters, they are not serial in the sense that the action of the first book is built upon in the second. They can confidently stand alone.
This book is amazing and I found it unique. (Simon has drawn a comparison to Tess Gerritsen’s Body Double. I may have to go find that one.) Beyond that, I refer you back to my earlier post (link at top of this one) in which I rave. The ravings stand.