Ill Will: Book summary and reviews of Ill Will by Dan Chaon

Ill Will

by Dan Chaon

Ill Will by Dan Chaon X
Ill Will by Dan Chaon
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  • Published in USA  Mar 2017
    480 pages
    Genre: Thrillers

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Book Summary

Two sensational unsolved crimes - one in the past, another in the present - are linked by one man's memory and self-deception in this chilling novel of literary suspense from National Book Award finalist Dan Chaon.

"We are always telling a story to ourselves, about ourselves." This is one of the little mantras Dustin Tillman likes to share with his patients, and it's meant to be reassuring. But what if that story is a lie?

A psychologist in suburban Cleveland, Dustin is drifting through his forties when he hears the news: His adopted brother, Rusty, is being released from prison. Thirty years ago, Rusty received a life sentence for the massacre of Dustin's parents, aunt, and uncle. The trial came to epitomize the 1980s hysteria over Satanic cults; despite the lack of physical evidence, the jury believed the outlandish accusations Dustin and his cousin made against Rusty. Now, after DNA analysis has overturned the conviction, Dustin braces for a reckoning.

Meanwhile, one of Dustin's patients has been plying him with stories of the drowning deaths of a string of drunk college boys. At first Dustin dismisses his patient's suggestions that a serial killer is at work as paranoid thinking, but as the two embark on an amateur investigation, Dustin starts to believe that there's more to the deaths than coincidence. Soon he becomes obsessed, crossing all professional boundaries - and putting his own family in harm's way.

From one of today's most renowned practitioners of literary suspense, Ill Will is an intimate thriller about the failures of memory and the perils of self-deception. In Dan Chaon's nimble, chilling prose, the past looms over the present, turning each into a haunted place.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

BookBrowse Review
"Ill Will is a mixture of Gone Girl (suspense) mixed with A Girl on the Train (unreliable narrators) with a dash of House of Leaves (weird formatting at times) thrown in for good measure. It starts with potential but rambles and the conclusion resolves nothing, leaving me wanting to throw the book against the wall when I finished it." - Mollie Smith Waters

Other Reviews
"Starred Review. With impressive skill, across multiple narratives that twine, fracture, and reset, Chaon expertly realizes his singular vision of American dread." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. A shadowy narrative that's carried well by the author's command and insight." - Kirkus

"Starred Review. In this creepy yet fascinating work, with a bleak Ohio wintery landscape as backdrop, Chaon creates a world of tragedy, disease, and drug abuse right out of today's news and makes it real while keeping readers guessing on many levels." - Library Journal

"If the definition of eeriness is indeed "strange, suspicious, and unnatural," the definers of the genre (Edgar Allan Poe, Henry James, Shirley Jackson, Peter Straub, et al.) have a worthy heir in Dan Chaon." - Booklist

"Dan Chaon's new novel is subtly, steadily unnerving - like a scalpel slipping under your skin and prying it, ever so slowly, from the muscle beneath. Ill Will is a dark Möbius strip of a thriller that will leave you questioning what's perceived and what's imagined, and whether the reverberations of tragedy ever truly come to an end." - Celeste Ng, author of Everything I Never Told You

"Ill Will not only confirms Chaon as among our country's finest writers but makes clear that he is one of our bravest and most inventive. He embraces risks that would have most novelists turning pale and making the sign of the cross. It's stunning. Read it right now." - Peter Straub, author of The Throat

"Dan Chaon's darkly stunning Ill Will ensnares you from its very first pages. It's both a bone-chilling literary thriller and a complicated tale of family secrets and the strange and dangerous paths grief and guilt can take us on - and it is not to be missed." - Megan Abbott, author of You Will Know Me

"'I believe in bad places,' one narrator of Ill Will confesses, and he's right. Dan Chaon's damaged characters stalk the elusive truth and what may be a serial killer through a nightmarish Cleveland populated by drug addicts and sexual predators. Intimate and unsparing, this is one of the creepiest books I've ever read." - Stewart O'Nan, author of Songs for the Missing

"Ill Will is a literary masterwork, and that rare, true psychological thriller that comes along once in a decade. This novel may be the most honest exploration of deceit ever written." - Alissa Nutting, author of Tampa

"This novel is brilliant, beautiful, and terrifying. Dan Chaon has written a tender, masterful family story and injected it with a cardiac arrest of a plot. Ill Will keeps you up late into the night, swelling your heart and turning your blood to ice." - Lily King, New York Times bestselling author of Euphoria

This information about Ill Will shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

Write your own review

Tookerteacher

Interesting
Interesting. However, I wish there was more of a defined ending.

Nanette S

Dark, gripping story
Okay, this is one book that is hard to describe. It left me confused, sad, uptight, repulsed, a bit scared, and yet, it kept me reading to find out the stories of both the past and present murders. It was well written, you just need to pay attention. There are all kinds of personalities, all kinds of lifestyles and temperaments. Do you believe the stories told to you by others? Your family members, your acquaintances, your patients? Every character telling this story might be unreliable, so how much of it do you believe and how much of it is truth? Parts of the story can be hard to grasp since it is written in a way that is somewhat disjointed in parts and one needs to know who is narrating and what time period. This story may not be for everyone.

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Author Information

Dan Chaon Author Biography

Dan Chaon is the acclaimed author of Among the Missing, which was a finalist for the National Book Award, and You Remind Me of Me, which was named one of the best books of the year by The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, The Christian Science Monitor, and Entertainment Weekly, among other publications. Chaon's fiction has appeared in many journals and anthologies, including The Best American Short Stories, Pushcart Prize, and The O. Henry Prize Stories.

He has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award in Fiction, and he was the recipient of the 2006 Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Chaon lives in Cleveland, Ohio, and teaches at Oberlin College, where he is the Pauline M. Delaney Professor of Creative Writing.

... Full Biography
Link to Dan Chaon's Website

Name Pronunciation
Dan Chaon: shawn

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  • You Remind Me Of Me jacket
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