June 4, 2023

Novel Lives

Book Publicity, Reviews, Author Interviews, and Discussion Posts by Susan Crosby

The Last Word By Taylor Adams Is A Genre Bending, Terrifying RideI

The Last Word By Taylor Adams- Summary

After posting a negative book review, a woman living in a remote location begins to wonder if the author is a little touchy—or very, very dangerous—in Taylor Adam’s latest pulse-pounding novel of psychological suspense and terror, The Last Word from the critically acclaimed author of No Exit and Hairpin Bridge.

Emma Carpenter lives in isolation with her golden retriever Laika, house-sitting an old beachfront home on the rainy Washington coast. Her only human contact is her enigmatic old neighbor, Deek, and (via text) the house’s owner, Jules.

One day, she reads a poorly written—but gruesome—horror novel by the author H. G. Kane and posts a one-star review that drags her into an online argument with none other than the author himself. Soon after, disturbing incidents start to occur at night. To Emma, this can’t just be a coincidence. It was strange enough for this author to bicker with her online about a lousy review; could he be stalking her, too?

As Emma digs into Kane’s life and work, she learns he has published sixteen other novels, all similarly sadistic tales of stalking and murder. But who is he? How did he find her? And what else is he capable of?

The Last Word By Taylor Adams- Review

First, I don’t usually deal with triggers. However, for The Last Word, I will make one exception (although I’m sure there are more). If you aren’t just an animal person but a person who loves your pets with every fiber of your being? Proceed with caution. The truth is, if I’d known about the exquisitely expressed relationship between Emma and her dog and the dangers he faces? I would not have read this book.

But by the time I figured it out? I was already hooked and knee-deep in this tremendous work. I’m not just speaking of what happens to the pup. There are explicitly expressed conversations of love and poignant, heartbreaking interactions between them that will get you.

Let’s move on to how exquisite this meta experience is. And it is meta. The author is narrating the book he is writing about the story being told in the book as it goes. I hope I wrote that right. So, you are reading the narration of the author’s book as the events are taking place.

Gruesome? Understatement. There isn’t a visceral moment of The Last Word that isn’t expertly detailed.

Taylor Adams

Thank you to William Morrow for an Advanced Audio Copy, which releases on April 25th.


His lips curl into a fleshy grin and again Emma feels insects crawling on her skin… She knows it’s co ming. She knows he’s about to do something to the innocent man before her eyes just to prove he can… The blade moves too fast for Emma to discern. She sees nothing but its effect. The man’s right hand, swinging the clutched rock, twirls away freely. Then another piece of him flies off. Another. He flutters apart with every razor stroke. And Emma can feel every near silent cut in her bones. A human body is dismantled by whispers.

One of my favorite bits about The Last Word is Taylor Adams’ utilization of the Washington Coast and the brutality of the weather. It isn’t just an isolated beach house. It is winter. Moreover, when conditioned together? You have a whole new, categorically-crazed character. There are a lot of good isolation settings. However, this one goes above and beyond in not just having its own personality but running roughshod into EVERYONE’s plans, actions, and attempts at action.

Lastly, I wanted to mention something significant. The Last Word is not just one genre. It is part psychological thriller, part horror, and part mystery. Each genre gets its full due while mixing to create a permanent sense of dread aching up your spine.

The Last Word By Taylor Adams: Final Thoughts


I didn’t forget where I usually talk about the characters. However, with The Last Word, there is a risk of severe spoilers if I talk too much about the characters. So the less you know going in, the better. There aren’t a lot of characters, but there are a lot of theres there. With that in mind, I will keep this review rather short and shut up on the subject, other than to say that they are all executed phenomenally.

Do I sound like a fucking amateur, Emma… You thought the characters in Murder Mountain were stupid. Well, lucky you. The internet is full of unlucky opinions but tonight you get to prove yours. Let’s see if you can do better… For what it’s worth? I think you’ll like this one better… My next one… tonight. It’s all about you. Emma, welcome to Murder Beach.

My last actual thought on The Last Word is about the audiobook version. The structure of it is unique and perfect for the structure of how the story is told. The narrators, Carlotta Brentan and Jim Meskimen, are new to me. They do a fantastic job.

As a reviewer, am I afraid to write another negative review? No. Was I scared to write a negative review of this book? Maybe. But luckily, there wasn’t a chance of that happening.


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