Behind the Red Door
By: Megan Collins
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: 08/04/20
My Rating: 5 Stars + Author Q&A
Top Books of 2020 The author of the “suspenseful, atmospheric, and completely riveting” (Megan Miranda, New York Times bestselling author) debut The Winter Sister returns with a darkly thrilling novel about a woman who comes to believe that she has a connection to a decades old kidnapping and now that the victim has gone missing again, begins a frantic search to learn what happened in the past. When Fern Douglas sees the news about Astrid Sullivan, a thirty-four-year-old missing woman from Maine, she is positive that she knows her. Fern’s husband is sure it’s because of Astrid’s famous kidnapping—and equally famous return—twenty years ago, but Fern has no memory of that, even though it happened an hour outside her New Hampshire hometown. And when Astrid appears in Fern’s recurring nightmare, one in which a girl reaches out to her, pleading, Fern fears that it’s not a dream at all, but a memory.
Back at her childhood home to help her father pack for a move, Fern purchases a copy of Astrid’s recently published memoir—which may have provoked her original kidnapper to abduct her again—and as she reads through its chapters and visits the people and places within it, she discovers more evidence that she has an unsettling connection to the missing woman. With the help of her psychologist father, Fern digs deeper, hoping to find evidence that her connection to Astrid can help the police locate her. But when Fern discovers more about her own past than she ever bargained for, the disturbing truth will change both of their lives forever.
Featuring Megan Collins’s signature “dark, tense, and completely absorbing” (Booklist) prose and plenty of shocking twists and turns, Behind the Red Door is an arresting thriller that will haunt you long after you turn the last page.
“Unputdownable! Deliciously dark, twisty, creepy, and atmospheric. Everything you want and crave in a chilling psychological thriller.”
Enter a Book Giveaway Contest for a chance to WIN a stunning Hardcover finished copy of BEHIND THE RED DOOR. Enter now through August 3. (US Only).
Winner to be announced in the upcoming August 4, Elevator Ride with Author Megan Collins Interview newsletter! It is going to be good. Do not miss this one!
Megan Collins returns following her smashing debut (The Winter Sister), with an absorbing, intricately crafted dark psychological thriller BEHIND THE RED DOOR. I LOVED this book!
The author weaves a labyrinth of deception and family secrets, each one more shocking than the last. Atmospheric and spellbinding, BEHIND THE RED DOOR is movie-worthy—and resonates stars such as Anthony Hopkins and Kiefer Sutherland.
Meet Fern Douglas, a 30-something Boston social worker who is nervous and anxious. You know she has encountered some trauma from her past. She is married to Eric, a loving husband concerned about her wanting to return to New Hampshire--to deal with her crazy dad.
Ted, her dad, is a retired professor who has used her during his life as part of his Experiments.
She lived in fear through her entire childhood of abandonment. Her mother and father are both artistic types, eccentric and not the best parents or role models.
When Fern sees a photo of a news story, she feels as though she has seen this woman before. She cannot remember where.
She decides to return to her childhood town in New Hampshire to help her dad pack for Florida; however, when she arrives, it appears he is not even packing. He is acting stranger than average. However, she still wants to please him.
Fern soon learns this woman she thinks she knows is the missing 34-year-old Astrid Sullivan, the bestselling author of Behind the Red Door, a memoir about her teenage kidnapping ordeal in nearby small town of Foster, N.H.
Fern runs into a school chum, Cooper, who has always been abusive and weird. He takes her to this log cabin he wants to renovate. As she walks the woods, she recalls a red door.
Between Cooper, the creepy Bishop, the homeless man in black, her crazy dad with his vintage typewriter, and his experiments to her mom with the locked pottery room— Fern is dizzy with fear and knows she must find this missing woman. She feels the danger, and she must remember.
Maybe if she reads the book and walks in the steps, she can recall her repressed memories.
Who was the kidnapper years ago?. What is it about a "red door"? Is it the same person who has kidnapped this woman again? Will Fern’s life be in danger? Can something ugly and broken be turned into something exquisite and beautiful?
What a great book!
Fans of Mary Kubica, Lisa Jewell, Christina McDonald, T. Greenwood, and A.J. Banner will find a lot to like here. Megan and these authors noted are some of my favorites. They are pros at skillfully drawing you in with vivid imagery, nature, and the unsettling, disturbing, and mysterious settings. I love the strong metaphors and symbols.
Plot driven and character driven, the novel is spellbinding, addictive, and hypotonic. The woods are creepy and you feel a sense of claustrophobic and foreboding. I can envision Anthony Hopkins starring in the role of Ted with his narcissistic sadistic personality, creepy, obsessive typing, and his outlandish mind game experiments.
BEHIND THE RED DOOR will hook you from page one to the very end. The setting leaves you breathless, and the twisty suspense leaves you shocked and waiting for the next door to open. The characters will haunt you long after the book ends.
I was so enchanted with the novel; I decided to watch the old film (2003) BEHIND THE RED DOOR (recommend) with Kyra Sedgwick, Kiefer Sutherland, and Roy Stockard. You can watch it for free HERE.
I think after reading the book and watching this film, you will be Googling “red doors” and their many meanings. A red door means “welcome” in an old early American tradition. ... Some believe a red door protects the occupants from evil. Some say it drives away evil spirits and brings good luck. You be the judge.
I am keeping my fingers crossed for a movie 🎬 based on Megan’s novel. They both are atmospheric, thought-provoking, abusive dads, strong metaphors, survival, symbolisms of the red door, evil, fear, and how growing up with this trauma carries over into adulthood, motherhood, relationships, intimacy, trust, dissociative amnesia, etc.
While watching the movie, I was always thinking about who I would cast for the book to the film. Here is my selection:
• Anthony Hopkins as Ted (perfect for him) • Kiefer Sutherland as Cooper (YES) so mysterious – he was super in BEHIND THE RED DOOR • Stockard Channing as Mara (also in Behind the Red Door) • Rachel McAdams as Fern • Ryan Gosling (swoon) as Eric • Marcia Cross, or Nicole Kidman (maybe too tall– will think on this for a redhead) or a younger: Molly Bernard (from Younger TV) as Astrid • Debi Mazar (Younger TV) as Rita (since she and Molly above were lovers once). • Will have to think further about the other characters.
BEHIND THE RED DOOR is a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 Star Thriller and on my Top Books of 2020! I highly recommend for your summer reading. I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and to discuss them. The cover is stunning!
Be sure and check out THE WINTER SISTER, if you have not read, now in paperback.
A special thank you to @AtriaBooks and @Netgalley for an advanced reading copy.
Q&A with the Author
Praise and Reviews
“[H]arrowing... Collins plays her cards carefully to maximize suspense.”
“Collins nimbly orchestrates Fern’s growing sense of terror as she slowly sifts in echoes of long-repressed sounds and sights…a tricky mystery. Even in the final pages, Collins avoids any expected resolution, leaving the reader deliciously unsettled and disturbed. A dark psychological thriller riddled with twisted family dynamics.” —Kirkus Reviews
"Best New Thriller Books to Read in 2020"
"Thrillers That Will Have You on the Edge of Your Seat This Summer."
"10 Highly-Anticipated Thrillers Coming Out This Summer."
“Spellbinding, poignant and atmospheric, Behind The Red Door is one of those rare stories you can get utterly lost in. With writing so richly evocative I could vividly imagine every detail, this is a mesmerizing tale in which family bonds are broken, lifelong secrets are exposed, and a woman who suffers a debilitating anxiety disorder must find the truth about her connection to a decades-old kidnapping. Intensely moving, beautifully written and thoroughly enjoyable, I can’t recommend this highly enough!” —Christina McDonald, USA Today bestselling author of The Night Olivia Fell
“In Behind the Red Door, Megan Collins has achieved something remarkable—a dark, disturbing story that is both elegant and fascinating. Exquisite writing, compelling characters and a story so captivating I finished it in a weekend. Few books live up to the word chilling, but this one does.” —Samantha Downing, USA Today bestselling author of My Lovely Wife
“Megan Collins is the master of emotionally resonant, deeply personal suspense fiction where the small details are just as chilling as the dramatic turns. Behind the Red Door is gripping and gorgeously-written and, like her stellar debut The Winter Sister, I’m certain this book will haunt me for years to come.” —Layne Fargo, author of Temper
“Taut, provocative, disturbing—Megan Collins’ sophomore novel is more than a thriller; it’s a dark and deeply compelling examination of the knife’s edge between trust and fear. With muscular prose and richly wrought characters, Behind the Red Door grabbed me, startled me, and didn’t let go until I’d torn through every chilling word.” —Andrea Bartz, author of The Lost Night and The Herd
“Atmospheric and haunting, Behind the Red Door is at once a chilling tale of complicated family dynamics and a riveting mystery. Elegant prose, intriguing characters and taut pacing make this book unputdownable.” —Daniela Petrova, author of Her Daughter’s Mother
“Behind the Red Door is stunning in every way. Fern Douglas digs her fingers into your brain until you’re hooked and want more. I’m still reeling from this. Megan Collins is a masterful writer and this novel is full of twists you didn’t expect. It will leave you breathless and shaking in the best way.” —Amina Akhtar, author of #FashionVictim
Book Giveaway Contest
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About the Author
Megan Collins is the author of The Winter Sister (Atria/Simon & Schuster). She received her B.A. in English and Creative Writing from Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, and she holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Boston University, where she was a teaching fellow.
She has taught creative writing at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts and Central Connecticut State University, and she is Managing Editor of 3Elements Review. A Pushcart Prize and two-time Best of the Net nominee, her work has appeared in many print and online journals, including Compose, Linebreak, Off the Coast, Spillway, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and Rattle.
She lives in Connecticut. Read More