Antioch by Jessica Leonard

Jessica Leonard’s Antioch is a strange ride through a peculiar mystery tale revolving around a serial killer, conspiracy theories, and (as strange as it might seem) Amelia Earhart. All of this transpires in a town that feels both small and yet large enough that people can maintain that sort of invisibility you only find in larger cities. It feels like an unreal place, one that can only exist in our imaginations, not dissimilar to the fictional town of Twin Peaks. In fact, if I had to compare this novel to anything, I would have to say that it has a lot of that Twin Peaks feel to it…and that’s a good thing.
In the end, I’m pretty sure I have it figured out and–assuming I’m right–I had the story figured out in the ninth chapter, a little over midway through the book. The problem is, you can never be more than pretty sure that you have it figured out. There’s so much uncertainty and haziness to the tale, that you just can’t be 100% certain. This is achieved, in large part, by Leonard’s ability to develop and then focus on the least dependable and stable character in Bess. It’s not so much that we have an unreliable narrator to this story, just an ungodly unreliable prism through which the events are being filtered.
To refer to Antioch as a phantasmagoria is perhaps putting it mildly. You’ll just have to experience it for yourself, and it is quite the experience.

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