Come With Me: Ronald Malfi
Reviewed By Steve Stred
Huge thank you to Netgalley, Titan Books and Ronald Malfi for letting me take an early read of this novel.
I’m honestly stumped as to how to even start this review.
Over the past year or so I’ve had the fortune to message a bit with Ronald, and even interview him for Kendall Reviews, (KR: You can read Steve’s interview with Ronald HERE) but up until this book, I’d only managed to read ‘Mr. Cables,’ his novella that was re-released last year.
That novella was stunning.
But every single person kept telling me – read his novels, read his novels.
It’s also interesting, because I had a few people tell me that if I love Andrew Pyper so much, I’d love Malfi’s writing because they are quite similar. After reading this one, I can see that.
What I liked: ‘Come With Me’ is, truthfully, one of the best books I’ve ever read. Not just this month, or this year, but in my reading experience. This book hooks you from the first, heart-wrenching chapter, and dragged me along for 300+ more pages of heartbreak, mystery, intrigue and layer upon layer of grief and missing the one you loved the most. Even if you don’t fully know all of them.
The story opens with our main character, Aaron Decker, who declines an invitation from his wife, Allison, to join her that morning as she heads to a local shopping center. She never makes it home. That first chapter could’ve been the entire book. Malfi based it on a true event that tragically happened in his life, and he could’ve simply expanded small events from each paragraph and I would’ve devoured it and sobbed and cursed him for breaking my heart.
As the next few weeks go by and Aaron tries to continue on as best he can with his life, he begins to find little things, things that suggest his wife was living a second life that he had no inkling that even existed. From this point, Malfi takes us on a grief-filled roller coaster where Aaron keeps following the clues gathered at each place he’s led.
Malfi writes as only the masters can, each sentence expanding the story but also keeping the reader on the edge of their seat, all the while creating that little nagging suggestion somewhere in the back of your mind that not all is what it appears to be and that at any moment the bottom will fall out.
Decker is a fantastic main character, one that you instantly feel for and root for but also someone you feel like you’ve known your whole life.
And by the end of the book, Allison will be a character you know and understand, even if she truthfully only appears living, within the first 50 pages or so.
What I didn’t like: It’s an interesting thing, but one of the minor subplots within this story is gun violence and I think this aspect will hit people differently based on what country they live in. I’ve never once even been near an active shooter event. We do have some gun violence here in Canada, but it doesn’t even hold a candle to the rampant carnage that happens on a daily basis in the US. When I read about some specific things, I was absolutely gutted. But for those who just shrug their shoulders or shout “2nd Amendment!” that aspect won’t have as much emotional weight.
Why you should buy this: If you’re a fan of Malfi, you’re a fan of Malfi. You’ll be buying this and loving every single paragraph. This book is sublime.
If you’ve never read Malfi before – this would be a perfect entry point. A book filled to the brim with grief, a husband’s desire to discover his wife and see her final task fulfilled, but also a story that lives and breathes and holds your attention until you’ve finished and you wish to God you’d never entered this world. When I finished this, I was in tears and just felt gut-punched. I actually messaged Ronald and shared how much I’d enjoyed it. It took me another half hour or so to regain my composure and even now, writing this the following day, I’m still thinking about this story and on the verge of tears.
Malfi is releasing one of the best-written books out there, a book that will feature prominently on many year-end “Best of Lists” and if we’re lucky, we’ll be seeing this one on the screen at some point.
Come With Me
Aaron Decker’s life changes one December morning when his wife Allison is killed. Haunted by her absence―and her ghost―Aaron goes through her belongings, where he finds a receipt for a motel room in another part of the country. Piloted by grief and an increasing sense of curiosity, Aaron embarks on a journey to discover what Allison had been doing in the weeks prior to her death.
Yet Aaron is unprepared to discover the dark secrets Allison kept, the death and horror that make up the tapestry of her hidden life. And with each dark secret revealed, Aaron becomes more and more consumed by his obsession to learn the terrifying truth about the woman who had been his wife, even if it puts his own life at risk.
Steve Stred is the author of a number of novels, novellas and collections. He has appeared in anthologies with some of Horror’s heaviest hitters.
He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada with his wife, son and their dog OJ.
You can follow Steve on Twitter @stevestred
You can follow Steve on Instagram @stevestred
You can visit Steve’s Official website here