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We Lie Here


We Lie Here

In WE LIE HERE, Rachel Howzell Hall puts TV writer Yara Gibson through the ringer in a whopper of a domestic thriller that will have readers’ heads spinning just as fast as Yara’s does throughout the novel.

In the town of Lake Paz, California, in 1998, a woman named Birdie is awakened by a noise coming from the cabin next door where a Black family is staying. She asks about the yelling as it is extremely late at night. They apologize and say they will be leaving the following morning. Birdie then remembers hearing something that sounded like a pop before going back to bed.

"What makes WE LIE HERE so frightening is the suggestion that your own family might not be who they claim to be. Rachel Howzell Hall plots this idea perfectly..."

In the present day, Yara returns to her hometown of Palmdale, California, to host her parents’ 20th anniversary party. She is staying at the local Holiday Inn, where she receives the first of many strange text messages. It begins with: “I have information that will change your life.” It's from an unknown number, and she angrily replies, “Who do you think you are?”

Yara gets together with her younger sister, Dominique, for drinks at the hotel when she meets her cousin, Felicia Campbell, for the first time. It turns out that Felicia, who claims to be a childhood friend of Yara’s mother, was the one who sent the cryptic text. Yara confronts Felicia about the message, but before she can answer, Felicia yanks at her necklace and rips it from her neck. Yara and Dominque grab it back and are shocked by the aggressive behavior. They ask Felicia to leave and tell her in no uncertain terms that she is not invited to the party. After leaving, she sends Yara another text: “Talk to me before it’s too late.” Of course, Yara does not respond.

Felicia remains persistent and sends a more detailed message, letting Yara know that what she has to share is very important and asking to meet with her the next morning at her mother’s favorite place in Lake Paz. None of this makes any sense to Yara as she is not aware of any connection between her mother and that town. Life is so hectic these days as she prepares for the big party that she does not want to bother her parents with any of this.

Meanwhile, Felicia arrives at Lake Paz, where an individual leads her by gunpoint late in the evening to the lake until she sinks beneath it, never to be seen alive again. However, she does send one final text to Yara before meeting her untimely end: “Help. Lix uz.” This makes no sense to Yara and was obviously typed under duress. When she finally calls back, someone else picks up and informs her that Felica is dead. She had left Yara a key to the address where she had wanted to meet in Lake Paz.

Yara visits the cabin in question and becomes enamored with the place that seems to be lost in time. When she’s finally ready to leave, she finds that all four of her tires have been slashed. An elderly lady holding a shotgun confronts her, having seen a suspicious character in the area earlier. Yara indicates that she was there for the day and it was her car that was vandalized. The woman calls the incident in and introduces herself as Birdie. She then goes on to explain that the cabin was owned by the Marsh family and at one time had housed famous Black musicians like Cab Calloway and celebrities like Dorothy Dandridge. She also talks about an incident that took place there in 1998.

Upon returning to her family home, Yara receives a call from Alicia, Felicia’s sister, wanting to know what caused Felicia’s death. Yara’s mother warns her to stay away from that part of the family, but she is far too shrewd to know that something secretive is going on. What makes WE LIE HERE so frightening is the suggestion that your own family might not be who they claim to be. Rachel Howzell Hall plots this idea perfectly, and the reveal is quite satisfying with the appropriate surprises and twists in the final act.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on July 15, 2022

We Lie Here
by Rachel Howzell Hall