Author Connor De Bruler
This is the spoiler full review of Goodbye, Moonflower by Connor De Bruler. If you prefer to stay spoiler free but still want to read all about how beautifully unnerving this book is please visit here.
Thank you so much to author Connor De Bruler for providing me with a copy in exchange for this honest review.
Goodbye, Moonflower had me hooked in the first few pages. We learn that our heroine is to be an African American woman named Lemmie and that she works the night shift as a locksmith. Cool, that’s not a profession I read much about, off to a good start.
But it’s in a quick flashback to her in 8th grade that I knew this book would be a winner. She recounts her first lock picking experience of breaking into the locker of a boy she had a crush on. It’s a kind of sweet story. Young girl slips a note into the boy’s locker and immediately gets embarrassed and wants it back.
So she breaks into the locker and finds not only her note but the mutilated carcass of a dead rabbit. Whoa!
This book lets the reader know right away that it’s going to take you to some dark places. And I, for one, was ready.
Back to Lemmie in the current time she starts her shift but has an unfamiliar dispatcher giving her locations of jobs. His name is Garret and he’s off-putting and rude.
Her first call of the night is nothing too memorable. Just a vaguely sexist jerk being condescending. Pretty standard fare.
She then responds to the call of a woman named Starflower who is locked out of her car. Lemmie ends up unable to get her back on the road and pities her so agrees to drive her home against protocol.
Starflower lives in what can be described as a home for wayward squatters. Lemmie goes inside out of curiosity. She finds very odd characters residing in the squalor but is most shocked when she comes across a man editing a film.
Displayed on the large television is what appears to be a violent rape/snuff film. The man says it’s fake but Lemmie shoots the television and his equipment just in case. I can definitely understand this action.
Throughout the first half of the book the reader is away that things seem… off. It’s that uncanny valley vibe of not being able to put your finger on why something is wrong, you just know that it is. It’s creepy and eerie but you really want to keep reading to figure out where it’s going.
Garret calls Lemmie with another job and she responds to a home where the man answering the door doesn’t appear to actually be the owner. She’s on high alert and it pays off when he turns out to be one of the burglars waiting to ambush her.
They called needing a locksmith to break into the safe in the home they’re robbing. Risky move but I guess so is robbing a place. Lemmie doesn’t take any shit so she kills one and wounds the other. The owner of the home comes out to finish the job. She leaves quickly without questioning any of it.
Upon arriving back at her car Garret calls and mentions the shooting. Alarmed, Lemmie finally realizes that something is definitely not right about this night.
She recalls that that first job of the night ended completely differently than the reader thought it did. The vaguely sexist man murdered Lemmie and put her body in his trunk. The events after that were all post death.
It would appear that Lemmie is now in some sort of afterlife. But not knowing really what to do about that she decides to go home to feed her cat. In another flashback we learn that she once attended a party with the boy who stashed the dead rabbit in his locker. He offered to take a very drunk girl home and Lemmie tagged along to keep her safe.
Valero, bunny boy, had very different plans. He set them off into the woods with the intention of hunting them for sport. It is easily assumed that he intended to rape and likely kill them. He managed to slice the drunk girl’s face with his machete before Lemmie turned it on him and killed him in self defense.
Lemmie had a locksmith mentor, Lucinda. Lucinda died years earlier. Now she shows up on Lemmie’s doorstep. This is indeed an afterlife of sorts.
They theorize about where they are but ultimately decide that all that matters in that they avenge Lemmie’s murder. But how to find a man who’s still alive when they’re in the world of the dead?
They set up a meet with Garret to get some information. He turns out to be a talking possum. This possum boss of the underworld gives them a hit job in exchange for helping them with their plans.
Unsurprisingly, the job is a set up and they’re ambushed. A mysterious woman on a motorcycle arrives to save an injured Lemmie.
The woman on the motorcycle turns out to be the drunk girl that Lemmie saved from Valero that night. She convinces Lemmie that Valero is the only one who can help them defeat Garret.
Despite their mutual hatred of Valero they break into his compound and find him as the leader of a very disturbing and violent cult actively engaged in a grotesque ritual. Even in a spoiler full review I don’t want to spoil what the ritual is because it’s so unexpected and bizarre I truly think you should read it fresh.
Lemmie confronts the girl about being an impostor. Her deduction is correct, the girl is actually working for Garret. Lemmie shoots her head off her shoulders.
She flees from the cult which is now actively in flames and manages to find her cat in the process.
The cat is full of wisdom and shows her a vision of her murderer. He’s using the money he stole from Lemmie to place bets on cock fights. Two thugs murder him for the money he won and discover a police badge in his pocket.
Lemmie’s murder is never solved and her killer is dead. The cat tells her there is no revenge left to be had. She can leave this place and move on.
I love this idea of layers of afterlife. Like Dante’s Inferno but modern and less objective sin. Author De Bruler has created a fascinating world in Goodbye, Moonflower that contains infinite life but not infinite meaning.
The writing is impeccable. There is so much atmosphere and nuance in this book that cannot be properly displayed through a summary. The imagery vibrates with a darkness that cannot be contained on the page. You sense it, you feel it.
Goodbye, Moonflower is the best of modern horror. It finds fear in nihilism and despair instead of surprise. But with a healthy does of violence to balance the philosophy.
I can highly recommend Goodbye, Moonflower to any fans of dark and twisted tales through worlds they’ve never seen before.
5/5 locks and keys 🔐🔐🔐🔐🔐
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Buy it here: Goodbye, Moonflower: A Novel