Review: Hemlock Island by Kelley Armstrong

Posted October 30, 2023 by Stephanie in 1 Star, Horror, Review / 6 Comments

Title: Hemlock Island
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Publication:September 12, 2023 by St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Horror
Find it on: Amazon | Apple Books | Barnes & Noble | Blackwell’s | Google Play | Kobo | Waterstones
Rating: 1/5★

Laney Kilpatrick has been renting her vacation home to strangers. The invasion of privacy gives her panic attacks, but it’s the only way she can keep her beloved Hemlock Island, the only thing she owns after a pandemic-fueled divorce. But broken belongings and campfires that nearly burn down the house have escalated to bloody bones, hex circles, and now, terrified renters who’ve fled after finding blood and nail marks all over the guest room closet, as though someone tried to claw their way out…and failed.

When Laney shows up to investigate with her teenaged niece in tow, she discovers that her ex, Kit, has also been informed and is there with Jayla, his sister and her former best friend. Then Sadie, another old high school friend, charters over with her brother, who’s now a cop.

There are tensions and secrets, whispers in the woods, and before long, the discovery of a hand poking up from the earth. Then the body that goes with it… But by that time, someone has taken off with their one and only means off the island, and they’re trapped with someone—or something—that doesn’t want them leaving the island alive.


I hadn’t read a book by Kelley Armstrong in years but when I found out about Hemlock Island I was honestly so excited for it and happy to jump back into Armstrong’s books. I honestly feel so bad about this negative rating and review but I didn’t like a single thing about it. When I finished the book it was one of those ‘what did I just read?’ moments. And honestly? I wanted to DNF Hemlock Island so many times but I was determined to finish it. Needless to say, I would not recommend this book.

Laney is our main character and after she got dicovered from her ex-husband Kit, he gave the island to her, which she rents out to people. She also got custody of her niece Madison after Laney’s sister died of cancer. When strange things start happening on the island like blood being left behind and hex circles appearing, Laney is going to check things out along with Madison, Kit, Kit’s sister Jayla, former friend Sadie and Sadie’s brother Garrett. And that’s when, of course, scary shit starts going down.

The story was one big mess and I’m not sure where to start explaining it all. It didn’t start out too bad, I suppose. I was glad to dive into the book and see what was up with Hemlock Island and the weird things that were going on there. The mystery of the island and everything surrounding that was fine. There were some creepy moments too, which I could appreciate. But then there were the personal relationships and fights between all the characters and the ridiclous plot twists that happened through out. I’m not going to say what exactly these twists were but they were just too much and too random. I guess I wish the author had more focused on the horror aspect and not the bickering between characters and history between them all.

If I could sum Hemlock Island up in one word I would just say ‘meh’. There was too much blah blah blah ridiculousness and not enough actual scary things happening since this is supposed to be a horror novel. Also could really have done without the character of Garrett. He was just gross and unnecessary, in my opinion.



About the author:

Kelley Armstrong believes experience is the best teacher, though she’s been told this shouldn’t apply to writing her murder scenes. To craft her books, she has studied aikido, archery and fencing. She sucks at all of them. She has also crawled through very shallow cave systems and climbed half a mountain before chickening out. She is however an expert coffee drinker and a true connoisseur of chocolate-chip cookies.

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6 responses to “Review: Hemlock Island by Kelley Armstrong

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