A bedridden author, tragedies too many to count, a manuscript too appalling to be true, and a horrible suspicion that this author is not what she seems to be…
My first read of Verity by Colleen Hoover left me so dumbstruck I actually had to read it a second time to write this review. The second read didn’t make it any easier though; the book is full of unspeakable acts, lies, and convincing prose that I’m still not sure what to believe. But one thing is certain: this bone-chilling book is not for the faint of heart.
So if you think you’re ready for it, let’s dive right into ‘Verity.’
- Author – Colleen Hoover
- Genre/Sub-genre – Thriller, mystery, fiction, mystery thriller, suspense, contemporary, adult, dark, psychological thriller
- Content warnings – Child abuse, murder, murder of a child, attempted home abortion, adultery, fatal pedestrian accident (descriptive, on-page), attempted murder, manipulation
- Type – Standalone
- No. of pages – 366
- Goodreads rating – 4.34
- Spice meter – 🌶️🌶️🌶️🌶️ (a lot of explicit action and dirty talk, occurring frequently)
Verity contains dark and mature themes like murder, manipulation, and child abuse, so this book isn’t appropriate at all for anyone sensitive to these topics. Make sure to read the content warnings before you pick up the book, because even though you could handle serious themes, Colleen Hoover gets graphic and descriptive with her writing, and it can be difficult to get through some scenes.
And I know a lot of teens love CoHo books, but this is one book of hers that I don’t recommend to young readers.
Verity Plot Summary
Lowen Ashleigh, the ghostwriter hired to complete the prolific author Verity Crawford’s work, discovers a horrifying truth – an autobiographical manuscript written by Verity, detailing her innermost thoughts and how she dealt with (and caused) the tragedies that befell the Crawford family. Now bedridden, Verity seems harmless and lost to the world, but Lowen can’t shake off the awareness that Verity is very much conscious and is hiding something more.
Lowen’s growing attraction to the grieving husband, Jeremy Crawford, prompts her to make irreversible choices until another truth comes to light. But now the question remains: which truth is the lie?
Verity Book Review
Verity opens with a blood-spattered ‘meet-cute’; Lowen is witness to a brutal car accident and Jeremy lends her a shirt to replace her own bloodied one. Only when they part ways but head into the same building do they realize they are scheduled for the same meeting.
Jeremy is here to find a writer to continue his wife’s work as she’s incapacitated after a car wreck. Lowen is struggling to make ends meet, so despite her initial hesitance at taking over for a bestselling author, she signs the contract and drives herself to the Crawford home in Vermont.
Even before she arrives though, we are set up for suspense. Much to Lowen’s suspicion, she finds next to nothing about Verity’s accident online. Then she tries getting into the author’s head with one of her works and realizes two things; one, the villain’s perspective the book is written in is impressively realistic and two, she will never be able to measure up to this author. So when Lowen finally arrives at the Crawford home, she is anxious and intimidated – so are we.
The house doesn’t help. Colleen Hoover sets the scene with sharp attention to detail, capturing the endless estate, the eerie stillness of the lake that spans the massive house, and the gloomy hills beyond. Chills ran down my spine when Lowen said:
“My mother used to say that houses have a soul, and if that is true, the soul of Verity Crawford’s house is as dark as they come.” – Lowen, Chapter 4
I couldn’t help thinking it’s a premonition, and true enough, Lowen discovers Verity’s manuscript soon after and we discover it’s not just the soul of the house that’s dark.
The infamous manuscript captures Verity’s perspective of her life, her connection to Jeremy, her motivations for her children – and it’s horrifying to the level of disgust. But then again, we were warned this would happen:
“What you read will taste so bad at times, you’ll want to spit it out, but you’ll swallow these words and they will become part of you, part of your gut, and you will hurt because of them.” – Verity, Author Note on her manuscript
Told in alternating chapters, Lowen’s account of the present and Verity’s account of the events leading up to the present paint a dark, uncomfortable picture of their intermingled narratives. But the discomfort a reader may feel is second to the intrigue that Hoover’s skillful writing evokes.
Verity shows us her obsessive love for Jeremy, and she’s explicit about their sexual relationship and how she used her sexuality to manipulate him. Lowen, in response, sympathizes with Jeremy’s obliviousness to Verity’s vileness and for having to care for such a partner, leading to growing feelings between Lowen and Jeremy.
It’s as twisted as twisted can be – more so because Verity’s presence is no longer confined to the past. To Lowen’s horror, Verity seems to be very much aware and not so immobilized. Verity’s eyes follow Lowen at times, Verity’s son waves at his mother who was standing at the window, and Lowen’s startled by Verity’s appearance at the top of the stairs when she and Jeremy are having sex.
The drastic turns in the manuscript get darker at every chapter Lowen (and we) read; Verity attempting to smother her daughter was so evil and heartless to read that I almost DNFed the book. But my bone-deep need to get to the end of the book kept me going so I read through every dark twist and every evil turn, only to be blindsided by the absolutely unhinged ending. Let me ask you, Ms. Hoover, who gave you the right to end this dizzying, mind-numbing story with another mystery?
The book ends with a letter, written by present-day Verity, making us question everything, I mean everything, we read about so far. The letter makes us doubt the manuscript, Jeremy’s integrity, and even the death of a child, and we readers do NOT get the resolution we are after. Instead, we are left with disbelief and then awe at how masterfully Hoover has crafted a story so engrossing and impactful that it leaves readers dumbfounded and arguing in online forums over one question: “Which truth was she manipulating?”
Before I end up turning it over and over to figure out which truth is the actual truth, I’d like to point out that I loved this book. True, I disliked almost every character in the book, hated some of their decisions even more, and the atrocities in the book were too dark and too intense to call it a pleasant read. Even with all that, I can never deny that this a masterclass in writing a confounding psychological thriller, because as dark and intense as the book is, it’s also wildly gripping and addictive from the moment it starts until the very end.
I couldn’t get on board with a couple of things though. The depiction of sex, especially from Verity’s POV, was crude and manipulative and although it helped characterize the sexual power play, it eventually came to a point where it was too frequent and I couldn’t figure out the value it was adding to the narrative. The other thing is more a sentimental opinion than a criticism – I wish I didn’t have to read about a mother plotting and murdering her own child. It’s fiction, I know, but it was difficult seeing explicit details of that on page.
So that personal peeve aside, I liked the thrilling, mind-bending ride this book took me on. Honestly, it made me wish Colleen Hoover wrote more thrillers because she clearly has the writing chops to create tough-to-love characters in an atmospheric novel of horrific proportions.
If you want to see for yourself how she took the darkest evils a human can commit and wrote them all into a riveting psychological thriller, pick up ‘Verity’ today. It will leave you screaming internally and pulling your hair out – perfect criteria for a read during the spooky season.
Who Should Read Verity
Fans of dark thrillers, psychological thrillers, and gothic horror would find Verity right up their alley because the book has elements coming from each genre to create a bestselling masterpiece.
If you’re a CoHo fan familiar with her romance books, you really shouldn’t miss out on this book because it will show you a different side of her writing with this book.
Other Books Like Verity
If you loved ‘Verity’ and want to read similar books, I have a couple of recs for you.
The Silent Patient is one such book – I was completely caught off guard by its plot twist. The novel follows a psychotherapist who’s trying to get through to a patient who stopped talking after she was accused of murdering her husband.
All Good People Here, about a journalist trying to connect a murder that happened 25 years ago to a kidnapping that happens in the present, is similar to Verity in that it’s gripping and completely addictive. Check out my review of All Good People Here!
‘Verity’ is a book you can read in one sitting because Colleen Hoover makes the twists so dark and thrilling that you have to know what’s coming next, so despite the gray characters and grayer actions they take, you can only keep going. But finishing the book doesn’t necessarily give you answers. I’m left with my head buzzing even after the second read, so tell me, are you team letter, team manuscript, or do you think Jeremy masterminded everything?
Yes, ‘Verity’ is a psychological thriller with a lot of suspense and dark turns, making for an intense reading experience.
This book is recommended for 18 years and above because of its extremely dark themes.
Verity captures child abuse and manipulation which can come under domestic violence, but it doesn’t necessarily feature spousal abuse or physical violence.
Yes, ‘Verity’ has a lot of explicit spicy scenes, occurring between Verity and Jeremy, and Lowen and Jeremy.
At the language level, yes, ‘Verity’ is an easy read. However, the heavily dark themes explored in the book can make it difficult to read for some people.
Yes, ‘Verity’ follows the passion and marriage between Verity and Jeremy, and the romance between Lowen and Jeremy.