What is this poorly remembered and vaguely described horror novel?
June 18, 2020 7:57 AM   Subscribe

I was recently talking to someone about books we bailed on as kids because we encountered something too troubling to deal with at the time. I could only think of one example, a psychological horror(?) novel from the late 1990s or very early 2000s. It was pretty much the only book I didn't finish back in the days when I finished everything, and I'd like to try reading it again if I can find it. WARNING: Mentions of fictional sexual abuse below the fold.

I would have checked this out from a library in Canada somewhere around the year 2000, either from the horror section or general fiction. For ages I thought the title might have been Inheritance, but that hasn't turned up much except the Christopher Paolini series and a 2012 novel by Joe McKinney. Whatever it was, I'm fairly certain the title was short. I don't recall any overt supernatural elements, but as you'll see my memory of this is extremely sketchy and potentially unreliable.

I chose the book because it looked unusual. It was a slim pocket-sized paperback, but the cover was matte instead of glossy, and the pages were silky. It was light brown or possibly purplish, with a cover illustration made up of thick black lines that reminded me of woodcuts.

The story was set in a large North American city in the late twentieth century. It involved several characters whose lives came to intersect, possibly through letters they all received. The first character introduced was a man who went out to check his mail and found one of these letters, possibly about being named someone's heir. The lawyer or executor involved in sending the letter may have also been a character. Another character was a wealthy and bitter old white woman who might have been a shut-in, with a deceased father she held in high regard. Another was a Latino or Afro-Latin teenager from a troubled home. These last two characters were the first to interact, I think, when the teenager turned up on the old woman's doorstep because of a letter he had received, and she began employing him to do odd jobs.

WARNING: Sexual abuse descriptions begin here.

The part I remember most because it was the part where I stopped reading involved the teenager being sexually abused by his father. His mother suffered from mental health issues and had either been jailed or was being held in the psych ward. While she was away, his father - who had previously mocked the boy for not being masculine enough - assaulted him.

I know this isn't much to go on, but hopefully between the unusual cover and the relative rarity of male on male sexual violence in books, this one also stuck out to someone.
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