Let Him In
William Friend
Sourcebooks (October 3, 2023)
Reviewed by Carson Buckingham

Newly widowed father Alfie is now taking care of his twin daughters, whose mother recently died of anaphylaxis when stung by an insect. One night, the girls come into his room saying that there is a man in theirs. Though there is nobody there upon searching, this nightly ritual goes on for quite some time, with the entity receiving a name—Black Mamba—who, after a while, the girls are no longer afraid of and who becomes, or so Alfie thinks, an imaginary friend to help them cope with the loss of their mother. Except Black Mamba influences the girls to do malicious things that Alfie doesn’t have the heart to discipline them over. The man makes so many idiotic calls when it comes to his daughters that I had to take some Advil after all the facepalming I did.

But is Black Mamba real or make-believe? This is the question that pervades the entire story and began to wear me out about halfway into the book, when the pacing bogged down. And the resolution of Let Him In was vague to the point of nonexistence, falling entirely and unrealistically flat.

Rather than the horror novel that this is marketed as, it’s really much more of a psychological novel of suspense, focusing on father/daughter relationships. Some of the paranormal events that are included actually get dull after a while.

So, in the final analysis, Let Him In is an okay, if unimpressive horror story. A couple of scenes were creepy, but not enough to carry the entire book. Additionally, in reading this book, I never felt connected to any of the characters. It was like looking at something going on inside by standing outside and gazing through a picture window. I was an uninvested spectator.

You might enjoy this novel more if you don’t think of it as a horror novel, but as a family saga of psychological disturbance. It was a valiant effort for a debut novel, though, and I’m looking forward to watching this author develop.

3 stars.


About Carson Buckingham

Professionally, Carson Buckingham has made her way in life doing all manner of things, most of which involve arson. She is currently employed as a freelance writer on a work release program. In her spare time, she studies forensics, in hopes of applying her new knowledge to eluding the authorities more effectively the next time. She is originally from Connecticut, but now resides in Kentucky—and Connecticut is glad to be rid of her.