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Theme Music

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An utterly propulsive and unpredictable psychological thriller from stunning new talent T. Marie Vandelly For the lucky among us, life is what you make of it, but for Dixie Wheeler, the theme music for her story was chosen by another long ago, on the day her father butchered her mother and brothers and then slashed a knife across his own throat. Only one-year-old Dixie was An utterly propulsive and unpredictable psychological thriller from stunning new talent T. Marie Vandelly For the lucky among us, life is what you make of it, but for Dixie Wheeler, the theme music for her story was chosen by another long ago, on the day her father butchered her mother and brothers and then slashed a knife across his own throat. Only one-year-old Dixie was left alive, infamously known as Baby Blue for the song left playing in the aftermath of the slaughter. Twenty-five years later, Dixie is still desperate for a connection to the family she can’t remember, so when her childhood home goes up for sale, Dixie sets aside all reason and moves in, re-creating a macabre decor with her family’s salvaged furniture. But as the ghosts of her family seemingly begin to take up residence in the home that was once theirs, Dixie starts to question her own sanity and wonders if the evil force menacing her is that of her father, or a demon of her own making. In order to make sense of her present, Dixie becomes determined to unravel the truth of her past and seeks out the detective who originally investigated the murders. But the more she learns, the more she opens up the uncomfortable possibility that the sins of her father may belong to another, and, perhaps most tragically, to Dixie herself. As bodies begin to pile up around her, Dixie must find a way to expose the lunacy behind her family’s massacre and redeem what little remains of her soul.


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An utterly propulsive and unpredictable psychological thriller from stunning new talent T. Marie Vandelly For the lucky among us, life is what you make of it, but for Dixie Wheeler, the theme music for her story was chosen by another long ago, on the day her father butchered her mother and brothers and then slashed a knife across his own throat. Only one-year-old Dixie was An utterly propulsive and unpredictable psychological thriller from stunning new talent T. Marie Vandelly For the lucky among us, life is what you make of it, but for Dixie Wheeler, the theme music for her story was chosen by another long ago, on the day her father butchered her mother and brothers and then slashed a knife across his own throat. Only one-year-old Dixie was left alive, infamously known as Baby Blue for the song left playing in the aftermath of the slaughter. Twenty-five years later, Dixie is still desperate for a connection to the family she can’t remember, so when her childhood home goes up for sale, Dixie sets aside all reason and moves in, re-creating a macabre decor with her family’s salvaged furniture. But as the ghosts of her family seemingly begin to take up residence in the home that was once theirs, Dixie starts to question her own sanity and wonders if the evil force menacing her is that of her father, or a demon of her own making. In order to make sense of her present, Dixie becomes determined to unravel the truth of her past and seeks out the detective who originally investigated the murders. But the more she learns, the more she opens up the uncomfortable possibility that the sins of her father may belong to another, and, perhaps most tragically, to Dixie herself. As bodies begin to pile up around her, Dixie must find a way to expose the lunacy behind her family’s massacre and redeem what little remains of her soul.

30 review for Theme Music

  1. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea Humphrey

    "When no one answered his repeated knocks, he let himself in. He told the police that the music struck him first. Not the blood, not the savagery,..., but the heartrending desperation pouring from the speakers in the living room. He covered his ears before it even occurred to him to cover his eyes." *Fun fact-I rode past the Franconia exit, the setting of the story, while reading this book! I'm tired of waffling on various ends of the rating system regarding this book, so I think a middle-of-the-r "When no one answered his repeated knocks, he let himself in. He told the police that the music struck him first. Not the blood, not the savagery,..., but the heartrending desperation pouring from the speakers in the living room. He covered his ears before it even occurred to him to cover his eyes." *Fun fact-I rode past the Franconia exit, the setting of the story, while reading this book! I'm tired of waffling on various ends of the rating system regarding this book, so I think a middle-of-the-road 3 stars will be my best bet and most honest assessment. I did clearly have some issues here, but this story also had so many fabulous things going for it. I'm going to put all the information out there so that you can make an educated decision on whether this book is right for you or not, and as always, the review will be spoiler free, but if you'd like to go in blind I would stop here. No matter how you choose to go in, please note that this novel contains a multitude of graphic violence, gore, and disturbing content, and those readers who are sensitive to descriptive violence and murder may want to steer clear of this book. Let's start with everything I loved. As stated above, this book is riddled with extremely detailed scenes of murder, graphic violence, and other disturbing content. I'm a twisted individual who stomachs this stuff well, so this was a plus in my book. No, Chelsea is not a glutton for sadistic torture and murder, but I felt this inclusion was done to further the emotional and harrowing aspect of the crime; not only did it bring a horrifying component to the narrative, but it also gives the reader a greater respect for the trauma Dixie has endured and the struggle to cope and heal from what has happened to her family. The portrayal of our main character's mental health and instability is one that is both engrossing and sobering; I cannot imagine someone reading this novel and not feeling for what she has been through and the struggles she has ahead of her. The creepy, atmospheric sense of this book is SO well done, and I enjoyed every second of its development. I believe most of my issues with the book stem from the procedural aspect of the book. There is a relatively small pool of (living) characters in this story, so it's fairly easy to solve the whodunnit portion, but that wasn't a huge deal for me. My issues were more in the need to abandon all sense of reality in how a case is solved. The police make a poor attempt to solve the case; alibis are apparently taken at face value and never double checked, case files are tampered with easily, and the ending climax will be a hit or miss for thriller readers, as it arguably contains a bit of a paranormal component. For me, I'm neutral on the inclusion of the supernatural or magical realism in my thrillers, but I feel the need to mention it as some readers are very opinionated on the matter. All in all, with a little extra research and development thrown in, Vandelly has the potential to be one of the next big time authors. This book took a classic serial killing plot and gave it a unique twist that brings the reader in by way of emotional investment. While this wasn't 100% enjoyable for me, I'm looking forward to what the author brings to the table next, and wish her and this book all the best. Highly recommended if you're looking for something with a similar vibe to Final Girls! *Many thanks to the publisher for providing my copy via NetGalley.

  2. 5 out of 5

    marilyn

    2020 Halloween season update! This is one of those books I remember and I surprise myself by remembering it somewhat fondly. ****** I was attracted to this book by the cover, the title, and the description although the description also repelled me with it's mentions of throat slashing, a mother and her sons butchered by the husband/father, slaughter by axe, and other things gave me doubts if I could handle reading this book. In the end, I know I will be reading another T. Marie Vandelly book but I 2020 Halloween season update! This is one of those books I remember and I surprise myself by remembering it somewhat fondly. ****** I was attracted to this book by the cover, the title, and the description although the description also repelled me with it's mentions of throat slashing, a mother and her sons butchered by the husband/father, slaughter by axe, and other things gave me doubts if I could handle reading this book. In the end, I know I will be reading another T. Marie Vandelly book but I do hope that she writes about something with less gore, slaughter, and butchery. My "blood bucket" (a term the author uses to describe how much more violence a person can stand), was full before the prologue was over. Twenty-seven year old Dixie Wheeler is the sole survivor of a family massacre. Her dad used a huge axe to butcher her mom and three brothers during breakfast and then her dad slit his own throat. For reasons unknown, two year old Dixie was left unharmed, sitting in her high chair. Dixie than spends her life wondering why she was spared and thinking that living on without her family is the worst thing that could happen to a person. When Dixie sees that her old family home, the site of the slaughter, is for sale, she jumps at the chance to buy it. Not only that, Dixie moves in every piece of furniture and household goods that her late uncle had stored and places everything exactly where it had been before, based on crime scene and old family photos. Dixie is not mentally or emotionally stable, a state that she attributes to having a family murdering father. Prepare yourself for an unreliable narrator in Dixie, who drinks heavily, has blackouts at very suspicious times, and feels that her father lives through her sometimes. Dixie lies to herself so she definitely lies to others when it fits her needs. This book has a lot liars, a lot of secrets, and yet I couldn't help laughing at the thoughts of Dixie. She has such a sarcastic, dry humor which she employs while speaking and thinking and my favorite parts of the book were when Mr Cullens, the former investigator on the Wheeler family murder case, is with Dixie. He never misses her play on words, enjoying them as much as I did. Other than Mr Cullens, everyone seems suspicious to me and I was afraid for everyone's lives. Dixie thinks that her dad may not have killed her family and if that is so, the murderer is probably still among the living. I liked the epilogue of the book but I just want to say that Dixie is not okay in my mind. There are a lot of excuses, blame placed on others, and deflecting in this book and there is a part of Dixie that I don't think can ever be fixed. Thank you to PENGUIN GROUP Dutton and NetGalley for this ARC.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Dennis

    5, strong, strong stars for T. Marie Vandelly's debut novel, Theme Music. Disclaimer: This book is extremely graphic. One of the most graphically violent books I have ever read in my life. If you can stomach extreme violence with graphic narration about it, then proceed with reading this amazing psychological thriller. Once in awhile, you come across a novel that completely knocks you down, and shakes you to the core—and that is Theme Music . A family mystery, interwoven with sparks of suspens 5, strong, strong stars for T. Marie Vandelly's debut novel, Theme Music. Disclaimer: This book is extremely graphic. One of the most graphically violent books I have ever read in my life. If you can stomach extreme violence with graphic narration about it, then proceed with reading this amazing psychological thriller. Once in awhile, you come across a novel that completely knocks you down, and shakes you to the core—and that is Theme Music . A family mystery, interwoven with sparks of suspense and horror, Theme Music is like the very seriously R-rated version of a novel that Ruth Ware would craft, and to believe that this is T. Marie Vandelly's first novel?! Remarkable. Dixie Wheeler is searching the web for potential homes to purchase. She and her boyfriend Garrett have been saving for awhile, and they are ready to make the next step in their relationship. Dixie is nervous about settling down, but she's excited for this potential move. While browsing listings, Dixie comes across one that captures her attention—it's her old childhood home! Well, her very brief childhood home. She moved out of it at eighteen months when her Aunt Celia took her in. Aunt Celia's been raising Dixie almost her entire life. Dixie's home comes with a dark past that she's unsure if she's ready to face. When Dixie was a baby, her father brutally murdered(seriously, they go into detail) her mother and three brothers, and then killed himself. The house has been completely renovated, but the listing is still an issue with the town's superstitions. Dixie believes that moving into this home will help unmask the demons of her past, and also come to terms with how her life turned out, so she decides to rent it and move in for the time being. It's like a test-drive to see if she could actually live in this notorious home. Once Dixie moves in, she starts unraveling. Why is she redecorating the house to resemble what it used to look like before her family's murder? As Dixie starts uncovering the mystery surrounding her family, she starts noticing oddities and peculiarities about her once family home. Is this house haunted or is her mind playing tricks on her? Ghosts of her family start appearing, and Dixie starts losing track of time, and losing track of, well, herself. As Dixie gets closer and closer to seeking the truth, demons from the past do indeed come to surface, and like it was in the past, they're deadly. Ugh, what can I say about Theme Music , that you haven't already heard from my initial thoughts above? This book really captured my attention, literally from the prologue, all the way until it wrapped up. It's a long read, and has a slow building suspense, but it's definitely not a slow burn type of novel. This story just continues to grow and build as the narration goes on. Each and every character has an interesting role to play, no fluff here! I loved the doses of humor sprinkled throughout the horror as well (Dixie's sarcasm at time was on point!), because it played a part in breaking up the intensity—good to have a break from the craziness at times! The momentum behind the story's arc just continued to become more and more powerful and addictive, and once I got into the story, I was invested. I really see big things about Theme Music this summer! I think it'll be one of those books that everyone will need to (or should need to) read if you call yourself a thriller or horror fan. Seriously folks, would I lie? Theme Music will be released July 23, 2019 and I received an advanced copy from Dutton Books in exchange for an honest review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    For such an unassuming title and cover I was surprised at how dark a story lay within these pages. "All the days became so long Did you really think, I'd do you wrong Dixie, when I let you go Thought you'd realize, that I would know, I would show The special love I have for you, my Baby Blue" ~ Badfinger Dixie Wheeler was only a toddler sitting in her high chair enjoying her breakfast on Thanksgiving morning when her father slaughtered her entire family, mother and three brothers, with an ax in front For such an unassuming title and cover I was surprised at how dark a story lay within these pages. "All the days became so long Did you really think, I'd do you wrong Dixie, when I let you go Thought you'd realize, that I would know, I would show The special love I have for you, my Baby Blue" ~ Badfinger Dixie Wheeler was only a toddler sitting in her high chair enjoying her breakfast on Thanksgiving morning when her father slaughtered her entire family, mother and three brothers, with an ax in front of her very eyes. Her father then slit his throat in the nightmarish aftermath. Dixie was left to wail until a neighbor boy discovers the grisly scene and from then on Dixie is come to be known as Baby Blue because that song was blaring from the stereo speakers when police arrived. Fast forward 25 years later and Dixie finds herself in a happy relationship with Garrett. When she discovers that her childhood home, and the scene of the murders, goes up for sale she can not resist the purchase even though Garrett refuses to move there. Though she is putting her relationship in jeopardy she still decides to move in. Having found her parents old furniture in storage at her uncle's house she even goes about making it an exact replica of the home from long ago with the help of crime scene photos that her uncle also had tucked away. Once she begins to settle in the strange occurrences start and her nightmares become so overwhelming that she is forced into insomnia. When Dixie discovers new information regarding that day she begins to question if her father really murdered her family or if someone else is to blame. This book had one of the best prologues I've read in awhile and I was so eager to flip the pages. However, I felt this loses steam through out the middle with a lot of repetition. Each chapter featured lurching, vomiting, things slipping down and / or getting stuck in her throat etc. etc. The ending, while I didn't figure it all out, seemed a little too over the top and definitely requires suspension of disbelief. The epilogue was a happily ever after disappointment if you ask me. If decapitated heads rolling across floors is your thing then this is the book for you, if not, then you've been warned! 3.5 stars! Thank you to Edelweiss and Dutton Books for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for my honest review.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Frank Phillips

    Freeeeeeaaakkkyyyy! This was one of my top five creepiest reads. Ever! I enjoyed this immensely. Not for everyone I'm sure, as it's very graphic. This is a perfect October read for horror enthusiasts! Anyone that enjoys Stephen King would probably enjoy this one, it's sinister on a whole other level and it impressed me to the point that I'm still thinking about this book, months after finishing it! I absolutely cannot wait until Vandelly publishes another novel!

  6. 4 out of 5

    BernLuvsBooks

    Theme Music has been hyped as a dark, creepy, must read thriller. All those warnings are true ya’ll! This book was 𝐝𝐚𝐫𝐤, full of 𝐦𝐮𝐫𝐝𝐞𝐫 and very 𝐬𝐡𝐚𝐝𝐲 characters doing all kinds of messed up things. Obviously, I enjoyed it immensely. 🤣 ⁣ ⁣ 🔪 I suspected the bad guy early on & I was right so I couldn’t rate this 5 stars but it proved to be a total 𝐩𝐚𝐠𝐞 𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐧𝐞𝐫. I was trying to tell my daughter about it and there were just soooo many little details that made it all come together. It really made me ap Theme Music has been hyped as a dark, creepy, must read thriller. All those warnings are true ya’ll! This book was 𝐝𝐚𝐫𝐤, full of 𝐦𝐮𝐫𝐝𝐞𝐫 and very 𝐬𝐡𝐚𝐝𝐲 characters doing all kinds of messed up things. Obviously, I enjoyed it immensely. 🤣 ⁣ ⁣ 🔪 I suspected the bad guy early on & I was right so I couldn’t rate this 5 stars but it proved to be a total 𝐩𝐚𝐠𝐞 𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐧𝐞𝐫. I was trying to tell my daughter about it and there were just soooo many little details that made it all come together. It really made me appreciate everything that went into the plot. There was pretty much one thing happening after the other, after the other. I was up till 1am one night, finishing this one up and it was totally worth it. ⁣If you aren't averse to gore - it's a must read. If you are - stay far, far away. 😬 ⁣

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lisa-Books Smiles

    3.5 stars. This was just okay to me. It was real good in some parts and extremely boring in others. I've read a lot of reviews that talk about this being an extremely dark book but, I don't agree. I've read way darker books than this one. Overall, it's a decent debut novel.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Natasha Niezgoda

    VERY HONEST REVIEW - NOT FOR EVERYONE. Okay. Hear me out👂🏼 I’m a true crime lover, and because of this, I have an amateur understanding of procedural behaviors/guidelines that usually occur within an investigation.🕵🏻‍♀️ So when a crime thriller has a criminal case with lazy procedural elements, it’s like a date where a guy (or girl) only talks about himself all night long - A TURN-OFF 🤷🏻‍♀️ And that’s what happened here. You see, the prologue of Theme Music is pretty hardcore, so I was excited to VERY HONEST REVIEW - NOT FOR EVERYONE. Okay. Hear me out👂🏼 I’m a true crime lover, and because of this, I have an amateur understanding of procedural behaviors/guidelines that usually occur within an investigation.🕵🏻‍♀️ So when a crime thriller has a criminal case with lazy procedural elements, it’s like a date where a guy (or girl) only talks about himself all night long - A TURN-OFF 🤷🏻‍♀️ And that’s what happened here. You see, the prologue of Theme Music is pretty hardcore, so I was excited to read it. You have the main character, Dixie, who’s basically choosing to live in the same house her whole family was slaughtered in 25 years ago.😱 She wants answers and closure, and shit gets real. But for shit to seem “somewhat probable” (especially when shit also has a supernatural element to it) then a synergy between reality needs to be made. And the easiest way to do that (in my opinion 💁🏻‍♀️) is to follow some form of logic (ie police protocols). (Good example - Stephen King’s The Outsider.) But that didn’t happen. And it derailed me from the storyline because I was just irritated by a lack of follow-through. Ugh, I’m bummed. Because this could have been a solid 4 star read, but instead I’m gonna give it 2.5-3 star rating. 🥴 I think with some research, it could have gotten there! Truly! And I won’t be deterred from reading another book from Vandelly, because she has epic imagination and charisma! So here’s my assessment: if you are like me and either read a bunch of crime novels or watch/read a lot about true crime, then you NEED to throw all that procedural preemptive logic out the window. If you don’t read anything like that, then you might actually enjoy this book quite a bit! Disclaimer: if you don’t like gore or guts or very descriptive language about brutal crimes, then I would suggest passing on this book. ☠️

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mackey

    Theme Music was one of the most hauntingly bizarre tales that I’ve read in a very long time. There is a paranormal element to it that adds to the horror aspect of the story but the story line itself is macabre enough to frighten off those with weak constitutions. Never-the-less, I couldn’t put this book down! Dixie was the sole survivor of a family massacre that occurred when she was two. The official story is that her father murdered the family with an axe before slitting his own throat, leaving Theme Music was one of the most hauntingly bizarre tales that I’ve read in a very long time. There is a paranormal element to it that adds to the horror aspect of the story but the story line itself is macabre enough to frighten off those with weak constitutions. Never-the-less, I couldn’t put this book down! Dixie was the sole survivor of a family massacre that occurred when she was two. The official story is that her father murdered the family with an axe before slitting his own throat, leaving only Dixie alive in her high chair. Dixie, who was raised by her aunt and uncle, has grown up with the stigma that surrounded her family as a result; so when the house – THE house – is put on the market, Dixie decides to buy it and move in. Not only that, but she gathers all of the old furniture and belongings that have been in storage and creates the house as near to the original as possible. Talk about a bit “off,” or perhaps just slightly obsessed. Of course, once inside the house, all hell breaks loose for Dixie. The problem for the reader is that we never are clear if Dixie is as crazy as her father allegedly was or if there is more to the story that Dixie – or us – even suspect. Admittedly the story was brilliant until the midway point and then I found myself hurriedly reading through to the end to find out what was going on with the characters – all of them. I think there could have been a bit more editing, especially toward the end of the story. However, even with that in mind, Theme Music is a terrific book, frightening, suspenseful and definitely horrifying.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Julie (JuJu)

    A must-read Halloween horror/thriller! I’m not a huge reader of horror, but I do try to cram several in during October. This very graphic debut is filled with dark and creepy horror elements. If you don’t like blood and gore, you better skip this one! But there is also a touch of humor mixed in with all the carnage, which I found very enticing. This would make a terrific Halloween movie. 👻 The cover grabbed my attention as soon as I saw it, then my brief review of the description closed the deal. A must-read Halloween horror/thriller! I’m not a huge reader of horror, but I do try to cram several in during October. This very graphic debut is filled with dark and creepy horror elements. If you don’t like blood and gore, you better skip this one! But there is also a touch of humor mixed in with all the carnage, which I found very enticing. This would make a terrific Halloween movie. 👻 The cover grabbed my attention as soon as I saw it, then my brief review of the description closed the deal. A father slaughters his family with an axe. Baby Blue is the only survivor of this inexplicable massacre. Lots of blood and guts, and just enough mystery and thrill to peak my interest! Thank you to Edelweiss, T. Marie Vandelly and Dutton, for this free digital ARC in exchange for my honest review. My Rating: 4 ⭐️’s Published: July 23 2019 by Dutton Pages: 400 @TVandelly @DuttonBooks @weiss_squad #Edelweiss #InExchangeForReview #psychologicalhorror #NoRulesJustThrills #HalloweenRead After publication, my reviews can be found: Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/profile/amz... Twitter: https://mobile.twitter.com/takemeaway21 BN.com, BookBub, Pinterest

  11. 5 out of 5

    Bark

    “Come on. Run screaming into the night with me.” Theme Music is my kind of book. Admittedly, my kind of book changes with the wind but today my kind of book is snarky and bloody and emotional and a rollercoaster of “what the hell is happening here?!!” The prologue was HORRIFYING and it completely hooked me. Read it, if you love it I think you’re going to love the book. If it’s too much to take, read the book anyway but don’t blame me! This book contains one of the best prologues I’ve read in may “Come on. Run screaming into the night with me.” Theme Music is my kind of book. Admittedly, my kind of book changes with the wind but today my kind of book is snarky and bloody and emotional and a rollercoaster of “what the hell is happening here?!!” The prologue was HORRIFYING and it completely hooked me. Read it, if you love it I think you’re going to love the book. If it’s too much to take, read the book anyway but don’t blame me! This book contains one of the best prologues I’ve read in maybe forever. It made me cringe, laugh and question my sanity for the laughter. That’s some skill right there and it continues throughout the book. I LOVED the dark humor of the heroine so much. Words cannot express how much. Without it, this book may have been entirely too dark to handle at this point in my life. As written, it was my kind of perfection. I don’t want to spoil the book for you so I’m going to be my typical lazy self and tell you very little. Win/win, right? You should be spending your time reading the book instead of my stupid review, anyway. So here’s the plot. It’s a simple one on the surface but it’s really not simple at all. Dixie rents a house. It is probably haunted. This is why she moves in despite a brief moment where she thinks perhaps this maybe isn’t the best of plans. “I don’t think it’s right for me... To disturb the dead” But she does it anyway, haha! See why I love Dixie? She begins to investigate the decades-old murders and discovers the truth may not be the truth she’s always assumed was the truth. How’s that for a sentence?! Ha, reviewer of the year award right there. Anyway, that’s all I’m saying and it’s likely too much. This book has echoes of The Amityville Horror and The Haunting of Hill House and all of those chilling and blood-splattered haunted house stories we all love so much but it is told from Dixie’s point of view and as much as we might love her, we’re not always sure we can trust her but through it all, I never doubted my kinship with her. She’s morbid and she’s obsessed and she keeps the reader, as well as everyone around her, a little off-kilter. “I only lied to you because I didn’t want to tell you the truth” 😹 This is no doubt a wonderfully obsessive, creepy haunted house tale but it’s absolutely captivating and immersive because of the writing. Dixie drags you into her head and her whacked out world and you fall right in never quite knowing if Dixie is telling herself the truth. She also has a beautiful way of attributing scents to people, one that isn’t included nearly enough in the horror novels I typically read. “There was a warm, somnolent maple scent filling the air around him. Garrett smelled like that sometimes, too, as though he had been baking all night at a low temperature.” I don’t why but I LOVED that lovely sensory description so very much. I loved this book with all that’s left of my heart if I haven’t made that clear enough yet. I will not say a negative thing. It kept me guessing throughout. My notes are filled with all the wrong guesses and here I was thinking I was getting better at this mystery game having read way too many lurid thrillers of late! The author was able to pull me in at a time when my brain was terribly distracted by - oh everything. She caught my attention with the creeps and the humor but she kept me with the strong emotional ties and the originally written heroine. Amazing stuff. Go read it! And then make all of your horror pals read it.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    Theme Music is T. Marie Vandelly's debut novel, and I loved it so much. This book is a fantastic blend of horror and thriller, and I would recommend it for fans of both. I could see this book still being on my favorites list at the end of the year. It's a fascinating and gruesome story. I think the bloodiness of it is much more on the horror side than thriller, so thriller fans, just be aware going in that this one is super graphic. Theme Music is well-written, grim, and entertaining. I was comp Theme Music is T. Marie Vandelly's debut novel, and I loved it so much. This book is a fantastic blend of horror and thriller, and I would recommend it for fans of both. I could see this book still being on my favorites list at the end of the year. It's a fascinating and gruesome story. I think the bloodiness of it is much more on the horror side than thriller, so thriller fans, just be aware going in that this one is super graphic. Theme Music is well-written, grim, and entertaining. I was completely captivated the entire time I was reading it, and I can't wait to see what T. Marie Vandelly does next. This is a must-read for this summer!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)

    3.5 Stars This was an engaging narrative that mixed together different genres including mystery, suspense, thriller and (my favourite) horror. The story was a bit larger than life and definitely required some serious suspension of disbelief. Yet this also made the story quite interesting because I had no idea what direction it was going. The audiobook narration was great so I would personally recommend that format. If you enjoy thrillers with a supernatural flair, then you might want to check out 3.5 Stars This was an engaging narrative that mixed together different genres including mystery, suspense, thriller and (my favourite) horror. The story was a bit larger than life and definitely required some serious suspension of disbelief. Yet this also made the story quite interesting because I had no idea what direction it was going. The audiobook narration was great so I would personally recommend that format. If you enjoy thrillers with a supernatural flair, then you might want to check out this one.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)

    Dixie Wheeler's entire family was brutally murdered on Thanksgiving Day in their kitchen by her father, who then killed himself.  Baby Dixie was found unharmed in her high chair by a boy next door and then raised by her aunt and uncle. It's been twenty five years and Dixie still bares the emotional scars of the horrific event that she was too young to even remember.  The house goes on the market and Dixie decides to move in, pulling her family's furniture out of storage to recreate the home as it Dixie Wheeler's entire family was brutally murdered on Thanksgiving Day in their kitchen by her father, who then killed himself.  Baby Dixie was found unharmed in her high chair by a boy next door and then raised by her aunt and uncle. It's been twenty five years and Dixie still bares the emotional scars of the horrific event that she was too young to even remember.  The house goes on the market and Dixie decides to move in, pulling her family's furniture out of storage to recreate the home as it was at the time of the murders. Readers soon learn that Dixie's past is littered with some suspicious events and blacks-outs at convenient times that raise major red flags about her sanity. When Dixie realizes that her uncle, now deceased, believed her father was innocent, she begins looking in to the case file and contacts the detective (now retired) who worked the original investigation. While searching for the truth, Dixie's grasp on reality begins to slip as people around her go missing and the ghosts of her past appear. I had high hopes but Theme Music was a huge disappointment for me.  It started strong with the chilling massacre described but then the story went downhill from there.   While I'm all about suspending my disbelief for an entertaining story, this one was built on far too many convenient circumstances, enough that I rolled my eyes a few times.  The main character felt like a caricature as the quintessential unreliable narrator.  The ending, which was supposed to be shocking, was instead predictable and unsatisfying. Thanks to Dutton Books and Edelweiss for providing a DRC in exchange for my honest review.  Theme Music is scheduled for release on July 23, 2019. For more reviews, visit www.rootsandreads.wordpress.com

  15. 4 out of 5

    Alex | | findingmontauk1

    Holy chalupas another 5 star read! THEME MUSIC sits at just under 400 pages and I finished it in a matter of hours. I could NOT stop myself! It's the story of Dixie Wheeler, whose mother and brothers were butchered by her father before he ran a knife across his own throat when she was 18 months old. It's 25 years later and she's moved BACK into that house. With a mixture of haunting/creepy elements, a bloody mystery, and a psychological horror story with a growing body count, this book has EVERY Holy chalupas another 5 star read! THEME MUSIC sits at just under 400 pages and I finished it in a matter of hours. I could NOT stop myself! It's the story of Dixie Wheeler, whose mother and brothers were butchered by her father before he ran a knife across his own throat when she was 18 months old. It's 25 years later and she's moved BACK into that house. With a mixture of haunting/creepy elements, a bloody mystery, and a psychological horror story with a growing body count, this book has EVERYTHING! *insert SNL Stefon gif* Spicy as hell, this book had my heart racing and freaked me out more than once. My house, like many, makes weird and random noises quite often... so... And the TWISTS in this, oh my goodness... the twists! Like The Isley Brothers, this book had me twist and shout over and over! I love when a book can still do that. This book is STELLAR! A must-read!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Chandra Claypool (wherethereadergrows)

    I started this book before I had to leave for a weekend upstate to be a part of a wedding. I didn't want to put this book down but I had to so I would read snippets here and there as I found time. One of the reasons I like to binge read is because it's like watching a movie. If you watch a movie in a lot of sections, then we don't get quite the same impact like we would had we watched it all the way through in one fell swoop. I do think that had I read this in one sitting it would've likely been I started this book before I had to leave for a weekend upstate to be a part of a wedding. I didn't want to put this book down but I had to so I would read snippets here and there as I found time. One of the reasons I like to binge read is because it's like watching a movie. If you watch a movie in a lot of sections, then we don't get quite the same impact like we would had we watched it all the way through in one fell swoop. I do think that had I read this in one sitting it would've likely been a five star read since I review with my emotions and this book is absolutely bananas and I LOVED IT. However, since I've had time to stew on it with the traveling and activities, and because I read it in parts as I could.... I feel like there were certain things that kept me from giving this five stars. I know some thriller readers are opposed to bringing in paranormal *things* to these stories. Personally, as a lover of horror, I have absolutely no problem with this and quite frankly, the finer line a thriller book walks to horror, the better! I couldn't imagine being the only witness to my family's massacre at the hands of my own father. I certainly couldn't imagine being a baby when this happens so the only thing I know about the event is what I've been told about or veered away from. Would I move back into that house once I saw it on the market. I'm pretty sure that's a hell to the NO, but then we wouldn't have this book so thank you Dixie for being so damn curious! There are certainly some elements where you need to suspend some belief. Strangely enough this is on the living side rather than the dead. Dismiss the legal/law side of the book and concentrate on the paranormal/psychological side and I think avid thriller readers will really enjoy this ride into the absolutely insane... or is it? **wink**

  17. 4 out of 5

    Laura • lauralovestoread

    There is no question about it, when I heard of this book through the book community/bookstagram vine, I needed to get my hands on it. I’m a bit of a chicken when it comes to haunted houses and ghost story books, yet I’m also so fascinated by them. Almost as if to see just how scared it will make me. This debut novel had all of the ghost story and haunted house vibes I was looking for, yet it’s told upfront so you know what you’re getting into, even from the synopsis. For a big scaredy cat like me There is no question about it, when I heard of this book through the book community/bookstagram vine, I needed to get my hands on it. I’m a bit of a chicken when it comes to haunted houses and ghost story books, yet I’m also so fascinated by them. Almost as if to see just how scared it will make me. This debut novel had all of the ghost story and haunted house vibes I was looking for, yet it’s told upfront so you know what you’re getting into, even from the synopsis. For a big scaredy cat like me, I appreciated that aspect so I could read with one eye open under a blanket as needed. As the story unfolds, and we get to see Dixie Wheeler, all grown up after the tragedy where her family is brutally murdered, things begin to take on a sinister feel. More and more of her story unfolds and more ghosts reveal their past. I really loved this book! I only wish that I’d read it closer to Halloween for that truly creepy factor. It’s gruesome and dark, but also grabbed me in from the beginning. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5 stars!! *Thank you to Dutton for this gifted copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ludwig Reads

    “I like this one,” I said. “It feels like home already.” Theme Music is what every thriller/horror novelist wishes they could write. It's obscure, unapologetic and knife-wielding. The author's writing is extremely sharp it terrified me. And that rarely occurs. Without further ado, welcome to the Wheeler House. The layout of this place is so wonderfully detailed throughout the story and, just like any of the characters that dwell inside it, has an extraordinarily haunting sense of self. From Dixie' “I like this one,” I said. “It feels like home already.” Theme Music is what every thriller/horror novelist wishes they could write. It's obscure, unapologetic and knife-wielding. The author's writing is extremely sharp it terrified me. And that rarely occurs. Without further ado, welcome to the Wheeler House. The layout of this place is so wonderfully detailed throughout the story and, just like any of the characters that dwell inside it, has an extraordinarily haunting sense of self. From Dixie's recollection, this is the house where her father grabbed an axe and massacred her family at the breakfast table as Badfinger's Baby Blue played in the background. Little does she know that coming back to her childhood home, twenty five years later, will dredge up sinister memories and, most importantly, the awful truth of what really happened on the day of her family's massacre. This book is truly boundary-breaking. It just knew how to be a thriller and a horror novel. In her debut, Vandelly proves herself as a master of both. I enjoyed everything that came after the final revelation. It felt like something out of a Wes Craven movie. The horror element explains the aftermath of our heroine's past trauma and how it psychologically affects her in the present. It also felt almost necessary. I doubt that the lack of this genre in this book would've reached the same purpose or engraved the same emotions into the reader. What was also interesting was the horror of the ways Dixie's guilt -as to her father singling her out as the sole survivor of her family's murder - manifested itself. I've seen my share of horror movies, but this book went beyond; what's more terrifying than our worst nightmares infiltrating themselves into our real lives?

  19. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    I'm not usually one for creepy ghost stories, but OH, this book! Very surprising that it's a debut novel as I believe it rivals some of Stephen King's in terms of the "creep factor." Protagonist Dixie was a toddler when her father interrupted the family breakfast by butchering his wife, his young sons, and then slitting his own throat. Now, twenty-five years later, Dixie feels compelled to buy her old house that is up for sale as she feels there are answers awaiting her. Of course her boyfriend, I'm not usually one for creepy ghost stories, but OH, this book! Very surprising that it's a debut novel as I believe it rivals some of Stephen King's in terms of the "creep factor." Protagonist Dixie was a toddler when her father interrupted the family breakfast by butchering his wife, his young sons, and then slitting his own throat. Now, twenty-five years later, Dixie feels compelled to buy her old house that is up for sale as she feels there are answers awaiting her. Of course her boyfriend, Garrett is horrified by this decision and refuses to live there with her. And so begins her tale as the house appears to be haunted by her dead family; she hears unusual sounds, music, and personal items turn up where she least expects them. I would suggest not reading this at night; I did and it intensified the creepiness more than I imagined. Yes, it's bloody, gory, and really gruesome, but the storyline is worth it all! I look forward to reading more by Vandelly! Thanks to NetGalley and Dutton for granting my wish with this ARC!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    4.5 Stars First, I want to say that this book is filled with graphic violence, detailed acts of gruesome, inhumane acts of savagery and brutal murder. It might just be the bloodiest, goriest book that I've ever read. Ever. It's very dark and beyond disturbing so if you tend to stay away from books that read like that, then this definitely is not the book for you. With that said, I freaking loved T. Marie Vandelly's debut novel Theme Music! When Dixie Wheeler was 18 months old, her father t 4.5 Stars First, I want to say that this book is filled with graphic violence, detailed acts of gruesome, inhumane acts of savagery and brutal murder. It might just be the bloodiest, goriest book that I've ever read. Ever. It's very dark and beyond disturbing so if you tend to stay away from books that read like that, then this definitely is not the book for you. With that said, I freaking loved T. Marie Vandelly's debut novel Theme Music! When Dixie Wheeler was 18 months old, her father took an ax and brutally killed her mom, brothers Josh, Eddie, and Michael and then slit his own throat in their kitchen while she sat covered in blood in her highchair. She became known as "Baby Blue" for the song playing in a continuous loop while the murders took place, until she was found by Rory, a friend of her brother. Twenty-five years later when she finds her childhood home is for sale, she's determined to live there again, with or without her boyfriend Garrett, who refuses to move in and against her Aunt Celia's objections (she raised her). If she wants to finally try and discover what really happened that day, Dixie feels compelled to move in. And she does, with her family's old furniture, which she arranges exactly like it looked when they lived there. As soon as she moves in, ominous things begin to happen. Dixie starts having terrifying nightmares and loses bits of herself―she can't remember things almost as if she blacked out. Is Dixie losing her mind? Already insane from her childhood trauma? Or is the house haunted like it's rumored? That's what Dixie thinks when she begins seeing the ghosts of her dead family. As she delves into the past with the help of the detective who investigated the murders, she uncovers buried secrets and digs up more than just old ghosts. Like I already said, I loved this book. It was a thrill ride from the start, and I'm still impressed it was a debut! I know the gore will be a turn-off for a lot of readers, but I do enjoy graphic violence in my thrillers when it's done the right way as it is in this novel(for another excellent example, think Karin Slaughter's superbly written yet extremely graphic violence in her thriller novels). In this case, the brutality and violence, the disturbing content, vividly brings the horrific Wheeler Massacre to life, which I think was absolutely a brilliant move by Vandelly because you can't help but watch it play out in your head, bit by horrifying bit like a movie. It just amplifies the addictive quality of the novel as it goes along. There's really no turning back from this book once you're hooked by the narrative or Dixie, who is just a fantastic character. I absolutely can't wait to see what Vandelly has in store with her next novel and you can be sure that I'll be reading it! Definitely put this one on your TBR for this summer (or even this fall―perfect for seriously scary Halloween reading)! **Thank you Edelweiss and Dutton for the ARC. All opinions are my own.**

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kayla | wanderingthepage

    4.5 Stars - Okay so let me start by saying that this book is marketed as a thriller and it is but does have elements of horror. I loved the creep factor of this book! But, a warning, there is gore. If you can’t handle graphic details of murder, crime scenes and such, this may not be the one for you. Dixie Wheeler was one year old when her entire family was massacred, she was the lone survivor. As an adult she decides to move back to her childhood home and scene of the crime when the house goes u 4.5 Stars - Okay so let me start by saying that this book is marketed as a thriller and it is but does have elements of horror. I loved the creep factor of this book! But, a warning, there is gore. If you can’t handle graphic details of murder, crime scenes and such, this may not be the one for you. Dixie Wheeler was one year old when her entire family was massacred, she was the lone survivor. As an adult she decides to move back to her childhood home and scene of the crime when the house goes up for sale. Very strange things start to happen and you have to wonder, is this her fear and imagination or is there something more going on for real. Dixie drinks a lot so you have to question her validity at times. I am not going to lie, I figured out the whodunit very early on but there was another huge twist I did not see coming! I enjoyed Theme Music, it was a great change up in the world of thrillers and I love a good creep factor. My one complaint about this book was the chapter length, I don’t know if that will change in the final copy but, 30 page chapters made it hard for me at times. Otherwise, the book is worth a read if you can get past the gore. I have seen this on many people’s favorites list and I do think it will be a favorite for many!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    Absolutely the best thriller I’ve read in a long, long time. Creepy, compelling, and smarter than your average suspense novel, Theme Music gets in your head so deeply that you find yourself having trouble distinguishing what’s real and what’s imagined right along with the protagonist. Though some of the twists are predictable, there are so many of them that you won’t guess them all. My jaw hit the floor at least 10 times while reading this. I’ll warn that I did figure out who the villain was fai Absolutely the best thriller I’ve read in a long, long time. Creepy, compelling, and smarter than your average suspense novel, Theme Music gets in your head so deeply that you find yourself having trouble distinguishing what’s real and what’s imagined right along with the protagonist. Though some of the twists are predictable, there are so many of them that you won’t guess them all. My jaw hit the floor at least 10 times while reading this. I’ll warn that I did figure out who the villain was fairly early on (a bit before halfway through the story) as well as what one of the major clues meant, but there were so many complications beyond just whodunit that followed that it didn’t in any way diminish my enjoyment of the book. One caveat for more squeamish readers: This book contains many, many very gruesome descriptions of the murder of a family (including small children). The gallows humor and the tone of the narrative help make it more palatable, but it might be upsetting for some readers. *I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

  23. 4 out of 5

    Madeline Nixon

    I hate it when a really good book falls flat. I loved the creepy vibes with the gruesome murders and ghostly figures in the house. That was probably my favourite part of the novel because it was so well done. But I wanted scarier and had been told it would be scarier. In addition to that, a little before halfway through the book it became glaringly obvious who really slaughtered the family, making me super disappointed when that reveal happened and my suspicion was true. I really wish this one e I hate it when a really good book falls flat. I loved the creepy vibes with the gruesome murders and ghostly figures in the house. That was probably my favourite part of the novel because it was so well done. But I wanted scarier and had been told it would be scarier. In addition to that, a little before halfway through the book it became glaringly obvious who really slaughtered the family, making me super disappointed when that reveal happened and my suspicion was true. I really wish this one ended better than it did.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Sawangjang

    I was sucked in right from the very first page! This is way beyond what I was expecting from this book. This book deserves all of the rave reviews and hype it has been getting! A serious page turner! The gore, detail, and insane acts of violence had me cringing, yet waiting for more. This would make a killer horror film!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    Beginning - great Middle - awful End - okay Full review to come later!

  26. 5 out of 5

    tattooedreader13

    4.5 stars! Such a fun listen, highly recommend! The writing is excellent and the main character is both hilarious and demented in the best way.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Isabel • The Crime Bookshelf

    3 STARS 🌟 I was really looking forward to reading this one because I thought it would be the perfect spooky read for October, but unfortunately it fell flat for me. While I didn’t LOVE this one, there are still many things about this book that I did enjoy. ⁣ ⁣ This book started off with a bang with one of the most gruesome scenes I’ve ever read. While the content was disturbing, the opening scene was so beautifully written and grabbed your attention right from the beginning. I will say, this book 3 STARS 🌟 I was really looking forward to reading this one because I thought it would be the perfect spooky read for October, but unfortunately it fell flat for me. While I didn’t LOVE this one, there are still many things about this book that I did enjoy. ⁣ ⁣ This book started off with a bang with one of the most gruesome scenes I’ve ever read. While the content was disturbing, the opening scene was so beautifully written and grabbed your attention right from the beginning. I will say, this book is pretty gory so I would maybe steer clear of this one if that’s not your thing. I personally didn’t think it was too bad, but I’ve been reading so many books lately with gore that I think I’m starting to get used to it 😬🔪⁣ ⁣ The premise of this book is very intriguing and I was super invested in the core mystery of the story. While I did love the fundamental aspects of the plot, I found that it wasn’t executed as well as I had hoped. The plot was a bit all over the place and there was a ton of dialogue, which kept pulling me out of the story. I also had issues with the pacing because I found the majority of this book to be really slow. This book was also really promising because it had paranormal vibes, which I love, but it just wasn’t as creepy as I wanted it to be. ⁣ ⁣ Although I did have some issues with this one, the ending was easily my favorite part about this book. I love when I can’t see an ending coming and I definitely did not see this one coming at all. I thought it was done extremely well and wrapped up the book perfectly. ⁣ ⁣ Overall, I would still recommend this one to you guys. Even though I didn’t love it, I have seen many high ratings out there so you might enjoy it more than I did 🤓⁣

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Canaves

    A Mystery Thriller For Horror Fans (TW suicide, including murder suicide and assisted/ graphic violence/ stalking) This started out completely bonkers–sole survivor of a family massacre moves back into her childhood home where the massacre took place–and turned into a great exploration of trauma. Dixie Wheeler was a baby when her father murdered the entire family with an ax before turning the ax on himself. Now, a grown adult, she impulsively decides to move into the childhood home where the even A Mystery Thriller For Horror Fans (TW suicide, including murder suicide and assisted/ graphic violence/ stalking) This started out completely bonkers–sole survivor of a family massacre moves back into her childhood home where the massacre took place–and turned into a great exploration of trauma. Dixie Wheeler was a baby when her father murdered the entire family with an ax before turning the ax on himself. Now, a grown adult, she impulsively decides to move into the childhood home where the event occurred and finds herself suddenly questioning if maybe her uncle, the only person who believed her father was innocent, wasn’t on to something… With the house appearing to be haunted, Dixie hearing her long dead family members, her boyfriend having none of her new antics, and her aunt furious she would move into that house, Dixie starts digging into the case, starting with finding the now retired detective who’d worked on it. This one works really well for fans of dark mysteries, psychological thrillers, and horror–you’ll be kept on the edge of your seat and on your toes the entire time. --from Book Riot's Unusual Suspects newsletter: https://link.bookriot.com/view/56a820...

  29. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    Oh did I enjoy this! Nothing beats taking a crime thriller and throwing creepy ghosts into the mix. Although I had a sense of what was going on from the beginning, it didn’t hinder my level of enjoyment.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Gara

    Warning - some use of bad language that I don't choose to use or read (personal choice). Did I want to find out what was going to happen next? Yes. There were frequent twists in the plot, some of which I anticipated and some that I did not. Did I want to read and yet cover my eyes at the same time? Oh yes, this had lots of graphic details of a murder scene. There were several times when I questioned Dixie - "Why did you want to live in this particular house?" - and other characters - "Garrett, a Warning - some use of bad language that I don't choose to use or read (personal choice). Did I want to find out what was going to happen next? Yes. There were frequent twists in the plot, some of which I anticipated and some that I did not. Did I want to read and yet cover my eyes at the same time? Oh yes, this had lots of graphic details of a murder scene. There were several times when I questioned Dixie - "Why did you want to live in this particular house?" - and other characters - "Garrett, are you sure you want a relationship with this girl?" Rarely do I start a book and not finish it, yet the language and graphic violence made me consider it. If those things do not disturb you, then you may find this story of interest. I received a free copy of this novel from abovethetreeline.com to review.

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