‘Verity’ is a thriller novel by Colleen Hoover, a prolific and hugely successful novelist.
Author Lowen Ashleigh finds herself in an unusual circumstance when she is requested to finish fellow author Verity Crawford’s works after she is involved in an accident and becomes unconscious.
Jeremy, Verity’s husband, gives Lowen the opportunity to stay with them while she goes through Verity’s prior manuscripts and gets a sense for the work and writing in order to continue.
Lowen had no idea she’d be living with Very herself, and what she learns in Verity’s office alters everything.
If you like the sound of this book and are curious as to what to expect in more detail, then keep reading this review.
Before you continue – beware of spoilers!
What Is Verity About?
Lowen is a down-and-out novelist who moved to New York City not for the employment opportunities or the prestige, but to blend in with the thousands of other people.
When the novel begins, she is in sorrow for her mother, who died of cancer only a week previously.
Lowen is tricked into taking on a ghost writer-assistant style post for the last three volumes in Verity Crawford’s best-selling murder thriller series, despite her lack of funds.
She reluctantly accepts the position and leaves the safety net of the city for the Crawford family home to investigate Verity’s plans and do research for the next three novels in the series.
Lowen experiences attraction, mystery, and horror in a series of events that will leave her, and the reader, shaken and questioning everything you thought you knew about those involved, despite what was originally to be a ‘easy’ assignment gifted by the ‘gods’ due to Verity’s bestselling status.
As Lowen looks through Verity’s documents in order to get enough material to write the next book for her, she comes across an unfinished memoir which talks about a lot of shocking things about Verity, Jeremy, and their children.
Knowing that it will only cause more pain and devastation to Jeremy who is already grieving the loss of two daughters, Lowen decides to keep the autobiography a secret from him.
This becomes an increasingly hard task though as the feelings between Lowen and Jeremy intensify which in turn influences Lowen that maybe it would benefit both of them if she was to share what she found with him regarding Verity’s dark secrets.
No matter how devoted Jeremy is to Verity even in her catatonic state, learning of the horrifying truth of what really happened to their children will be the ultimate test of love.
Reading Verity was an emotional rollercoaster, particularly from Lowen’s perspective. We don’t know if her feelings are genuine or if they are all in her brain.
The opening chapter establishes that this is a totally different aspect of Hoover’s personality than her usual love stories. Her words are all-consuming and enticing, and they are followed with blood spatter.
Storytelling has the power to penetrate your mind, seize control, and demand your whole attention.
The amount of creepiness instilled by Hoover was very startling. Even experienced suspense writers struggle to reach this level.
Even if you are used to reading and watching horror, this book will likely still be able to give you that anxious feeling in your stomach when tensions start to rise and the anticipation of what will happen next will have you turning each page despite everything.
It is interesting how we are introduced to the main characters in Verity.
As Lowen goes past, a truck hits a man who is checking his phone, and his blood splatters over his clothing.
When Jeremy sees this, he wants to help her and follows Lowen to a men’s toilet in a café, where he gives her his shirt because Lowen is in a rush to get to a very important meeting with her publisher.
Jeremy runs into her again in the elevator and presses the same floor button. They are, in fact, attending the same publisher conference.
Lowen learns that her publisher wants her to finish famed novelist Verity Crawford’s final volumes in a popular series.
As we mentioned earlier, it is from here that Lowen and Jeremy’s lives really start to intwine as Lowen must move into his home in order to work on the series that was originally Verity’s.
Lowen discovers Verity is very injured and is bed bound and unresponsive. Her eyes are closed, and she is unconscious of the nurse who is caring for her.
She comes into a draft of Verity’s autobiography, which exposes that the lady is just as troubled as her fictitious characters.
In the beginning stages of the book, the chapters center on Verity’s pregnancy, which she tried to terminate with a clothes hanger, and Jeremy’s strong disdain for his twin children.
Despite being a writer and the series’ heir, some may argue that Lowen isn’t the sharpest heroine. She’s innocent, falls in love with Jeremy right away, and doesn’t question things as much as she should.
Her persona was credible, though, because her upbringing was traumatic due to her sleepwalking and how it harmed her connection with her mother.
She has had some success as a writer, but her professional advancement has been hampered by her uneasiness in social circumstances.
Hoover raises the stakes as Lowen becomes involved in a new relationship with Jeremy, motivated significantly by what she reads in the text.
Verity’s discoveries are horrific, and as Lowen and Jeremy become closer, he opens himself to her more and more, divulging elements of his past with Verity about which Lowen pretends to be unaware.
Lowen’s concerns regarding the accident that wounded Verity deepen.
Then there’s Verity, the captivating, terrible lady who has written such a horrific novel that you can’t not but loathe her.
The Verity we meet in the text is a terrifying psychopath. We’re not sure if this is the same Verity who is in a coma and can’t move or speak.
Aside from the point of view from which the narrative is narrated, no aspect of the story or the characters can be taken at face value.
Strange things keep happening: Jeremy’s kid, Crew, gestures at his allegedly unconscious mother in the window, implying she was staring at him.
Lowen believes she sees Verity at the top of the stairs, and Crew casually mentions speaking with his mother, prompting Lowen to wonder if Verity is truly as injured as everyone believes.
Lowen reads through the final chapter of Verity’s novel, in which she describes deliberately drowning her last daughter in a lake. When Lowen makes Jeremy read this chapter, he loses it — and confronts Verity, who confesses that she is not, after all, brain-damaged.
She pleads to Jeremy that she will explain everything and that it is not what it seems. However, Verity is killed almost instantly as Lowen instructs Jeremy on how to murder her in such a way that it appeared she choked on her own vomit.
As the story progresses, it appears that Jeremy has already discovered the book — and, in a fit of rage, has packed Verity into their vehicle, driven her into a tree, and left her for dead. Except the plot failed, and she survived.
Verity claimed to be unconscious in order to give herself time before fleeing in the middle of the night with the couple’s son.
Hoover’s story twists are so surprising and unsettling that Verity remains one of the most debated psychological thrillers of all time (If you like thriller stories, also check out The Last Thing He Told Me).
Every single character in this story is deviously flawed, but this is what makes them more genuine as people.
The shifting between Low’s present tense POV and the chapters presenting Verity’s autobiography created the most beautiful suspense, and towards the conclusion of the novel, you’ll be flicking pages as fast as Lowen, trying to figure out where this is going and what’s going to happen.
There are parts of the plot that are largely left up to the reader to decide on, and while it is a gory and horrible story, it will make an excellent book club novel with plenty of debate topics. If you can stomach the subject, it’s highly recommended.
The novel is fast-paced, intriguing, and enjoyable. The story’s speed picks up with each unexpected twist and breath-taking revelation of the truth, or rather a twisted version of the reality.
The plot builds to a stunning ending that will have readers thinking, talking, and debating Hoover’s immensely intelligent and sophisticated story, as well as her delightfully interesting and ethically dubious characters.
Verity is a gripping psychological thriller that will have you doubting everything you’ve ever believed by the time you reach the last page (If you like thrillers, also check out Falling).
There are just enough hints to raise legitimate doubts about what transpired in the book – whether Verity’s dark manuscript is true or not. We’re left with an open ending that shakes things up and makes us think about these individuals long after the story is over.
Hoover builds the suspense to a well-timed crescendo and then gives many surprises, closing things up but yet leaving room for interpretation – if desired.