book blog · book review

The Chrysalis by Brendan Deneen

cover136072-mediumWelcome to the dark side of suburbia.

Barely employed millennials Tom and Jenny Decker have to grow up fast when they lose their cheap Manhattan apartment. Leaving “the city” is hard, but the blow is softened when they stumble upon a surprisingly affordable house in the suburbs.

For Tom, the bills, the mortgage, and Jenny’s unexpected pregnancy add up to terror. He’s not ready for this kind of responsibility.

Then he finds the thing in the basement. It makes him feel like a winner even as it scrambles his senses. A new job soon has him raking in the big bucks–enough that Jenny can start making her entrepreneurial dreams come true.

The Deckers’ dream home conceals more than one deadly secret. As Tom’s obsession with the basement grows, Jenny realizes that to save her family, she must expose everything. Before it destroys them all.

No one ever really wants to grow up…but sometimes behaving like an adult is the only way to survive.


*Thank you to the publisher, Tor Books, and NetGalley for the copy of this title in exchange for an honest review.

It’s almost that time of the year again where getting cozy with a scary book sounds appealing. And it’s what exactly I have in mind when I choose to read The Chrysalis. And though it got a creepy vibe on it, it didn’t quite achieve the chilling factor I was expecting. It follows the story of a young couple, bartender and artist, Tom and personal trainer, Jenny Decker. They just received a notice that the rent to their cozy Manhattan apartment will go up and it’s something they can’t afford anymore. Without much of a choice, they ended up into the suburb after finding that one beautiful and big yet affordable house. They may need to fix a lot of things, but with its price, the couple shrugs it off. It is too late to back out when they found out what happened to the previous owners, resulting in the house’s cheaper price. By then, they’ve already moved in and besides, they both love the house. Upon exploring the basement, Tom discovers a foreign thing behind an old fridge. Something that feels alarmingly alive. But instead of getting rid of it, he kept it a secret and nurtured it. And since then, his life drastically changed. For a start, he’s going to be a father. From bartending, he is now working for his friend in a corporate job that he didn’t really like but will bring a stable income. Things may not be perfect but it is certainly looking up for the Deckers. Tom thinks it’s because of the chrysalis down his basement. As days pass, his obsession with the chrysalis grows and in turn putting the life he’s slowly building with his family in jeopardy.

The Chrysalis certainly sounds interesting, but like I’ve said, it lacked the horror I was hoping for. I was so prepared to be frightened that I made sure I have my husband beside me when I started reading it. But aside from the creepy first trip to the basement, there’s nothing really scary happened. Disappointing, sure, but I am still curious to see how things will play out. The title spoiled us of what’s lying in the basement although what it can do remains a mystery. After the prologue, you can immediately get an idea of what’s about to happen to our characters and yet hoping that maybe it will still surprise you along the way.

The characters are okay, but they are not someone you can easily relate to. I had trouble connecting to any of them especially Tom. He appears self-absorbed most of the time, even before the chrysalis, and I couldn’t care less whatever happens to him. Jenny isn’t any better. For a pregnant woman, she sure likes her alcohol a little too much. I know it was reiterated that she has her doctor’s approval, but still. Also, their relationship felt forced. There’s not a lot of instances where I can gauge how much they truly care for each other. I feel like the only thing they have in common is how much they love to drink. I can’t see what Jenny see in Tom as there’s no mention of any redeeming traits. If there is, I might have missed it. As it is, I can’t find any sympathy towards the couple.

As for the chrysalis, it sure is creepy but after the initial encounter, not so much. There’s just not enough of it and I would have preferred to know a lot more about it because I was left with a few unanswered questions. A short history maybe and how it came to be on the basement, or a lot more interaction with Tom and how it came to affect even Jenny or its story with the previous owners, I believe, would be great additions to the story. There’s just so many interesting elements that were left undeveloped. It certainly got a huge potential but didn’t quite deliver.

In spite of all those issues I have with this, I’d still say the book turned out to be an okay read. Not too bad, but not great, either. Some may enjoy it but for me, something is missing. Maybe because it didn’t quite meet my expectations. It looks like it could be a good movie, though.




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