REVIEW: “Limetown”

“Limetown (The Prequel to the #1 Podcast)” by Cote Smith, Zack Akers, Skip Bronkie

Hardcover, 290 pages

Published Nov. 13, 2018, by Simon and Schuster (first published Oct. 30, 2018)


I was so excited to find a copy of this book at my local library!

From the creators of the #1 podcast Limetown, an explosive prequel about a teenager who learns of a mysterious research facility where over three hundred people have disappeared—including her uncle—with clues that become the key to discovering the secrets of this strange town.

On a seemingly ordinary day, seventeen-year-old Lia Haddock hears news that will change her life forever: three hundred men, women, and children living at a research facility in Limetown, Tennessee, have disappeared without a trace. Among the missing is Emile Haddock, Lia’s uncle.

What happened to the people of Limetown? It’s all anyone can talk about. Except Lia’s parents, who refuse to discuss what might have happened there. They refuse, even, to discuss anything to do with Emile.

As a student journalist, Lia begins an investigation that will take her far from her home, discovering clues about Emile’s past that lead to a shocking secret—one with unimaginable implications not only for the people of Limetown, but for Lia and her family. The only problem is…she’s not the only one looking for answers.

Zack Akers and Skip Bronkie are first-rate storytellers, in every medium. Critics called their podcast Limetown “creepy and otherworldly” (The New York Times) and “endlessly fun” (Vox), and their novel goes back to where it all began. Working with Cote Smith, a PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize Finalist, they’ve crafted an exhilarating mystery that asks big questions about what we owe to our families and what we owe to ourselves, about loss, discovery, and growth. Threaded throughout is Emile’s story—told in these pages for the first time ever.


My review

As a fan of the Limetown podcast and ongoing Facebook Watch TV series, I was so excited to read the prequel that describes the early lives of investigative journalist Lia Haddock and her mysterious uncle Emile, who vanished along with hundreds of others from a research community in Tennessee. This book did a lot to explain Lia and Emile’s relationship, among other things, but not in a way that I felt was true to the podcast. The timeline of the prequel didn’t match up with the podcast at all. If you read this by itself and never listen to the podcast, it makes a lot more sense. I found myself having to set aside what I already knew from the podcast in order to really enjoy it. With that major hurdle aside, the book is great — wonderfully creepy and tense.

About the author

Author bio and photo courtesy of Goodreads

Cote Smith grew up in Leavenworth, Kansas, and on various army bases around the country. He earned his MFA from the University of Kansas, and his stories have been featured in One Story, Crazyhorse, and FiveChapters, among other publications. His first novel, Hurt People, was a Finalist for the 2017 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction, longlisted for The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, a 2017 Kansas Notable Book Award winner, and winner of the 2017 High Plains First Book Award.

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