Unspeakable Things

Narrated by: Caitlin Kelly
Length: 8 hrs and 34 mins
4 out of 5 stars (1,863 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Inspired by a terrifying true story, a heart-pounding novel of suspense about a small Minnesota town where nothing is as quiet - or as safe - as it seems.

Cassie McDowell’s life in 1980s Minnesota seems perfectly wholesome. She lives on a farm, loves school, and has a crush on the nicest boy in class. Yes, there are her parents’ strange parties and their parade of deviant guests, but she’s grown accustomed to them.

All that changes when someone comes hunting in Lilydale.

One by one, local boys go missing. One by one, they return changed - violent, moody, and withdrawn. What happened to them becomes the stuff of shocking rumors. The accusations of who’s responsible grow just as wild, and dangerous town secrets start to surface. Then Cassie’s own sister undergoes the dark change. If she is to survive, Cassie must find her way in an adult world where every sin is justified, and only the truth is unforgivable.

©2019 Jess Lourey (P)2019 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved

Critic Reviews

"Part suspense, part coming-of-age, Jess Lourey’s Unspeakable Things is a story of creeping dread, about childhood when you know the monster under your bed is real. A novel that clings to you long after the last page."--Lori Rader-Day, Edgar Award-nominated author of Under a Dark Sky

Editor's Pick

Unspeakable crimes, unpauseable suspense
"Accomplished author Jess Lourey drew on one of her childhood’s defining memories—the famous abduction of 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling in Paynesville, Minnesota—to craft this intensely suspenseful and haunting novel. Told from the perspective of 12-year-old Cassie McDowell, it starts as a coming-of-age tale set in the 1980s—think Trapper Keepers, Pac-Man, and references to "Chester the Molester." But as that last one suggests, the dread creeps in fast. Something isn’t right in the McDowell family…or their town, where boys start to disappear and then return, their changed demeanors hinting at shocking trauma. Lourey is a master at building unrelenting suspense, and prolific narrator Caitlin Kelly delivers an excellent portrayal of Cassie’s ordeal—and the process by which an entire community comes to terms with its deep, collective grief."
Kat J., Audible Editor

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Performance

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Dark, dark dark but fantastic

If you are a true crime buff, this fictionalized account of the events surrounding Jacob Wetterling’s kidnapping and murder will float through your mind as you read about Cassie’s haunting tale. The writer has nailed the period with every TV, pop culture and food reference throughout the story which helps lighten the very dark subject matter. Not for those freaked out by kidnapping or triggered by references to sexual abuse. I was disturbed but could not stop listening!

19 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Brilliantly written - no spoilers

I never leave reviews, but I need to counter the negative ones left here. This story was beautifully written. It is a coming of age story set in a small town during the 80s. While it is loosely based on a true crime story, it was not graphically violent (at least not physically). I read a lot of thrillers, and modern detective/procedurals, and it was far less graphic/scary than 90% of anything I've read. It's point of view is definitely a young girls (which makes sense of some of the reviews here), but I would not say it's a YA story, due to the depth of psychological tension the author creates. The author did a remarkable job weaving the psychological undercurrents of growing up in a dysfunctional household, during a fearful period of time, in small town America. Having grown up in a small town, in the 80s, myself, I loved the cultural references - it was really fun. While the book deals with some dark material, it's through the eyes of a hopeful young girl, who manages through innocence to make a great deal of the content lighthearted. The author created a character I could relate to, and I couldn't stop listening once I started. The narrator is also fabulous. Overall, I suppose it's for a niche audience, but if that's you, you'll love it.

16 people found this helpful

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Epilogue

I loved this book but had a few questions when finished. As I googled, I found her epilogue!!!! Loved it. Wish it was in story!

11 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Huge Let Down

Don’t get me wrong it was a great story with great characters that is until the end. The build up was great, I was invested in the characters then it ended with a huge let down.

9 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Oof

Imagine having amazing tantric sex for 9 hours, then right as you approach the big finalé, you instead stop, go to the DMV, hit yourself in the head with a rock, and then die. That was about the level of enjoyment I had with this book. There was a lot of build-up, meaningless tie-ins and important loose ends left to rot. When the music started playing at the end, I was convinced I had accidentally skipped past 9 or 10 chapters somehow. I thought “surely that can’t be how it ends???” But alas. It was. Unless you have a propensity for being annoyed and toyed with, skip this one.

9 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Very disturbing in a good way.

Amazing story telling. I grew up in a similar situation (family not the missing boys) and this was spot on.

8 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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It was captivating and disturbing

I just don't feel like the story left a clear picture. I have questions, and I don't think its meant to have a followup, so I think there were areas that deserved more attention and detail. The story itself was very good, but it just all felt....unfinshed, like I missed something. worth a credit, and I think this Author is someone to keep an eye on.

7 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Flat

I couldn't wait for this book to be over. If I was reading a hard copy of this novel, I would have quit reading less than half way through. But as I was listening while spending the day prepping and painting my bathroom, I soldiered on. I didn't realize this would be completely read in the voice of a 12 year old girl...and it was annoying. I could have dealt with that if the story was at least intriguing or suspenseful but the story just rambled along taking forever to get to the climax which wasn't that surprising. And I still dont know why Cassie had these feelings about her father and what ever happened to him??

This story would be better categorized as a Teen/Young Adult novel.

5 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Too much!

What a disappointment! The story had so icy potential and then was drowned in repetitive and unexplained girl drama!

5 people found this helpful

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No real story

Very possibly one of the weirdest books I've ever heard. I was left not really understanding what the message was horrible and couldn't wait to finish. But had to see if it got better.

4 people found this helpful

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Profile Image for Rosanna Bellini
  • Rosanna Bellini
  • 01-18-20

Dark and darker still

Like another review has already prefaced, you will enjoy this book if you come in expecting a coming-of-age story, you will likely not if you’re looking for a who-done-it. The criminal incidents in the book mostly act as a sinister and foreboding metaphor for the loss of the naivety of childhood which is written exceptionally well through the eyes of a 12yo. This is a very very dark book, but it handles its source material with care, mindful to not sensationalise trauma, abuse and violence.

The narrator does this work such justice and really made child narrators (something I normally avoid) enjoyable, so much so that I would seek out the readers’ other work on audible.

The only star I have to knock off is for the ending which I feel is a publisher do-over so I’d recommend anyone seek out the Epilogue on the author’s personal website for a much more satisfying conclusion that keeps the same tone as the rest of the book.

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Profile Image for B. Adamson
  • B. Adamson
  • 01-09-20

Not really a thriller but...

This is described very much in terms of being suspense or thriller territory, and it really isn't. It is a beautiful, evocative novel seen through the eyes of an innocent child on the cusp of her teenage years desperately trying to make sense of a threatening adult world around her. She's not safe at home: frightened of her moody alcoholic father and despairing of her weary overworked mother, she doesn't trust adults in general and in particular those who should offer sanctuary. Rumours circulate in half overheard adult exchanges and urgent but puzzled conversations with her peers so that gradually she can only really trust herself.

The performance is great: the child's voice clearly differentiated from the many unreliable and sometimes threatening adults, and her friends and schoolmates each endowed with their own character.

Approach this as a coming of age tale against a gathering storm threatening a whole community and you'll really enjoy it. You will be disappointed if you're expecting a gory true-crime thriller.

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for Tracey Maher
  • Tracey Maher
  • 01-17-20

disappointed

disappointed. the write up was better than the whole book. half of the story was taken up with pointless long winded explanations of irrelevant details...