I will be honest and say that I knew very little about this book before I picked it up and started reading it. I did not know the genre, pace, or plot, but I had seen it praised and raved about online and decided I wanted to give it a go myself. The title, Slow Down, You’re Here is initially what drew me to the book. I’m in a period of my life where I’m trying to be more present, chasing joy instead of being shackled by my anxiety. I thought it would be a pleasant and calming read. I was very, very wrong.
Written by Wellington novelist and lawyer Brannavan Gnanalingam Slow Down, You’re Here is a story of an unhappy family stuck in the depressing routine of pandemic life. None of the protagonists are happy, perhaps even long past the point of trying to be. Parents Vishal and Kavita are always on the edge of an argument, with their love having been left long behind. Vishal works ever-changing hours as a taxi driver and Kavita spends nearly every moment not at work with their two small children, Arani and Bhavan. The family is stuck in a sad routine that will never end until an old flame from Kavita’s past suggests a weekend away.
Having the rest of the story unfold was a treat, especially in an age where spoilers are rife all over social media and in workplace discussions. I made it last, only reading a few chapters each night, but I could have easily devoured the book in one stressful evening. It’s a relatively short novel, but not a word is wasted on setting the scene of a story that will stay with you for weeks, even months after you’ve read it. Never does it dally on unimportant details, lingering on fluff to tide you between the chunks of grit. The suspense builds in waves between changing points of view in a dichotomy I could not have predicted when I started reading it.
I read a lot of books, easily finishing several each week, and then immediately starting the next. It is not often a book will stay with me as I go about my days after I’ve finished it. But no matter where I am or who I am with, a quiet part of my brain is still in shock from having read this book. Gnanalingam has crafted a story that has unsettled me to my core, and I hope you read that only as the highest compliment I mean it to be.
This book will fuel your anxiety, dealing with a parent’s worst fear in a carefully written and clever horror story. You will be gripping the pages tight, sitting on the edge of your seat and holding your breath as your eyes dart across the page. I entreat you, buy this book and settle down in a cozy corner with a calming cup of tea, and let the nightmare unfold before your very eyes.
You can purchase Slow Down, You’re Here directly from Lawrence and Gibson for $23 including free nationwide postage.
Featured image via Lawrence and Gibson.