Overall Grade: 4.5 ⭐️
I’ve been trying to find the words to tell people why they should be reading Lucy Score. Honestly, her books are a trojan horse of storytelling. See, here’s the thing. When you pick up a book like her newest story, Riley Thorn and the Corpse in the Closet, and you launch into the story, at its rom-comesque surface, it’s seemingly zany. Riley Thorn, the heroine, is a psychic. She’s not thrilled with her gift, so she goes into different situations where people need her to use her psychic abilities, and she begrudgingly agrees. She fights the use of her gift. This leads to all kinds of issues. Add to that an overprotective new boyfriend in Nick, a cadre of senior citizen roommates who are out of control, a family of gifted mystics, a grandmother with an iron fist, trying to control Riley’s use of her gifts, a large farting dog, a strange smell from next door, and the murders of some not-upstanding humans to the mix, and, to me, it feels very out of control. Every turn of the page brings another twist for Riley who is trying to negotiate a new relationship, find some alone time with him, and maintain her autonomy over her gift. This story is heavy with story and characterization; its feel is light. But that’s the Trojan horse of Score’s writing because belying that zany story are a couple of life truths.
For one, Lucy Score uses the murders of internet trolls to highlight the insensitivity and mean-spiritedness between humans. Interestingly enough, Score kills two of these people in the story and she threatens a couple more, and I think you’re meant to consider the ways that we treat each other, especially through the computer. Score presents these deaths in a way that makes us laugh in her fiction, but there is a graver truth to its existence: these unkind characters forgot empathy and compassion for humankind through their online behavior. And we’re supposed to think about that, I believe.
Secondly, Riley is such an interesting character. She’s beautiful, quirky, intelligent, and independent. Since Nick has committed himself to her, and as a consequence of the happenings of the first book of this series, out of his worry, he makes choices that undermine her agency, her ability to make her own decisions. And Riley fights this. In doing so, there aren’t dramatic issues with their relationship in this book; any angst of Riley Thorn… lies in the revelation of the story. What Lucy Score does is create a conversation around Nick’s male instinct to protect Riley so that she can maintain her independence while respecting Nick’s fear over her. These conversations feel important in the world of romance, even rom-coms, when male characters can often undermine the decisions of the heroines.
Additionally, because Riley struggles with the responsibility behind her psychic ability, there is a message about doing your best even when you worry that you will fail. Some of Riley’s insecurities about being a psychic lie in her worry that she won’t perform well. It takes much of the book for her to realize that she has to try first, do her very best, and accept the results.
All of the qualities of Lucy Score’s Riley Thorn and the Corpse in the Closet make for a story that will simply make you smile. With the weekend ahead of us, why wouldn’t you want to read a story that will make you laugh out loud and remind you that being kind to others makes for a better world?
In love and romance,