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Theme Music

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  714 ratings  ·  251 reviews
An utterly propulsive and unpredictable psychological thriller from stunning new talent T. Marie Vandelly

For the lucky among us, life is what you make of it, but for Dixie Wheeler, the theme music for her story was chosen by another long ago, on the day her father butchered her mother and brothers and then slashed a knife across his own throat. Only one-year-old Dixie was
Hardcover, 387 pages
Published July 23rd 2019 by Dutton Books
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Average rating 3.77  · 
Rating details
 ·  714 ratings  ·  251 reviews

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Chelsea Humphrey
"When no one answered his repeated knocks, he let himself in. He told the police that the music struck him first. Not the blood, not the savagery,..., but the heartrending desperation pouring from the speakers in the living room. He covered his ears before it even occurred to him to cover his eyes."

*Fun fact-I rode past the Franconia exit, the setting of the story, while reading this book!

I'm tired of waffling on various ends of the rating system regarding this book, so I think a
Mar 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: edelweiss-arc-s
For such an unassuming title and cover I was surprised at how dark a story lay within these pages.

"All the days became so long
Did you really think, I'd do you wrong
Dixie, when I let you go
Thought you'd realize, that I would know, I would show
The special love I have for you, my Baby Blue"
~ Badfinger

Dixie Wheeler was only a toddler sitting in her high chair enjoying her breakfast on Thanksgiving morning when her father slaughtered her entire family, mother and three brothers, with an ax in front
I was attracted to this book by the cover, the title, and the description although the description also repelled me with it's mentions of throat slashing, a mother and her sons butchered by the husband/father, slaughter by axe, and other things gave me doubts if I could handle reading this book. In the end, I know I will be reading another T. Marie Vandelly book but I do hope that she writes about something with less gore, slaughter, and butchery. My "blood bucket" (a term the author uses to ...more
5, strong, strong stars for T. Marie Vandelly's debut novel, Theme Music.

Disclaimer: This book is extremely graphic. One of the most graphically violent books I have ever read in my life. If you can stomach extreme violence with graphic narration about it, then proceed with reading this amazing psychological thriller.

Once in awhile, you come across a novel that completely knocks you down, and shakes you to the core—and that is Theme Music . A family mystery, interwoven with sparks of suspense
Frank Phillips
Sep 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Freeeeeeaaakkkyyyy! This was one of my top five creepiest reeds. Ever! I enjoyed this immensely. Not for everyone I'm sure, as it's very graphic. This is a perfect October read for horror enthusiasts!
Natasha Niezgoda
VERY HONEST REVIEW - NOT FOR EVERYONE. Okay. Hear me out I’m a true crime lover, and because of this, I have an amateur understanding of procedural behaviors/guidelines that usually occur within an investigation. So when a crime thriller has a criminal case with lazy procedural elements, it’s like a date where a guy (or girl) only talks about himself all night long - A TURN-OFF


And that’s what happened here. You see, the prologue of Theme Music is pretty hardcore, so I was excited to read it.
Theme Music was one of the most hauntingly bizarre tales that I’ve read in a very long time. There is a paranormal element to it that adds to the horror aspect of the story but the story line itself is macabre enough to frighten off those with weak constitutions. Never-the-less, I couldn’t put this book down!

Dixie was the sole survivor of a family massacre that occurred when she was two. The official story is that her father murdered the family with an axe before slitting his own throat, leaving
Lisa-Books Smiles
3.5 stars. This was just okay to me. It was real good in some parts and extremely boring in others. I've read a lot of reviews that talk about this being an extremely dark book but, I don't agree. I've read way darker books than this one. Overall, it's a decent debut novel.
May 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Theme Music is T. Marie Vandelly's debut novel, and I loved it so much. This book is a fantastic blend of horror and thriller, and I would recommend it for fans of both. I could see this book still being on my favorites list at the end of the year. It's a fascinating and gruesome story. I think the bloodiness of it is much more on the horror side than thriller, so thriller fans, just be aware going in that this one is super graphic. Theme Music is well-written, grim, and entertaining. I was ...more
Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)
Jun 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: arc
Dixie Wheeler's entire family was brutally murdered on Thanksgiving Day in their kitchen by her father, who then killed himself. Baby Dixie was found unharmed in her high chair by a boy next door and then raised by her aunt and uncle.

It's been twenty five years and Dixie still bares the emotional scars of the horrific event that she was too young to even remember. The house goes on the market and Dixie decides to move in, pulling her family's furniture out of storage to recreate the home as it
Chandra Claypool (wherethereadergrows)
Jul 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
I started this book before I had to leave for a weekend upstate to be a part of a wedding. I didn't want to put this book down but I had to so I would read snippets here and there as I found time. One of the reasons I like to binge read is because it's like watching a movie. If you watch a movie in a lot of sections, then we don't get quite the same impact like we would had we watched it all the way through in one fell swoop. I do think that had I read this in one sitting it would've likely been ...more
Laura • lauralovestoread
Jul 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
There is no question about it, when I heard of this book through the book community/bookstagram vine, I needed to get my hands on it. I’m a bit of a chicken when it comes to haunted houses and ghost story books, yet I’m also so fascinated by them. Almost as if to see just how scared it will make me.

This debut novel had all of the ghost story and haunted house vibes I was looking for, yet it’s told upfront so you know what you’re getting into, even from the synopsis. For a big scaredy cat like
“I like this one,” I said. “It feels like home already.”

Theme Music is what every thriller/horror novelist wishes they could write.

It's obscure, unapologetic and knife-wielding. The author's writing is extremely sharp it terrified me. And that rarely occurs.
Without further ado, welcome to the Wheeler House.
The layout of this place is so wonderfully detailed throughout the story and, just like any of the characters that dwell inside it, has an extraordinarily haunting sense of self.

Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'm not usually one for creepy ghost stories, but OH, this book! Very surprising that it's a debut novel as I believe it rivals some of Stephen King's in terms of the "creep factor." Protagonist Dixie was a toddler when her father interrupted the family breakfast by butchering his wife, his young sons, and then slitting his own throat. Now, twenty-five years later, Dixie feels compelled to buy her old house that is up for sale as she feels there are answers awaiting her. Of course her boyfriend, ...more
Lisa Sawangjang
Aug 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc-read, netgalley
I was sucked in right from the very first page! This is way beyond what I was expecting from this book. This book deserves all of the rave reviews and hype it has been getting! A serious page turner! The gore, detail, and insane acts of violence had me cringing, yet waiting for more. This would make a killer horror film!
Isabel • The Crime Bookshelf

I was really looking forward to reading this one because I thought it would be the perfect spooky read for October, but unfortunately it fell flat for me. While I didn’t LOVE this one, there are still many things about this book that I did enjoy.

This book started off with a bang with one of the most gruesome scenes I’ve ever read. While the content was disturbing, the opening scene was so beautifully written and grabbed your attention right from the beginning. I will say, this book is
Jamie Canaves
A Mystery Thriller For Horror Fans (TW suicide, including murder suicide and assisted/ graphic violence/ stalking)

This started out completely bonkers–sole survivor of a family massacre moves back into her childhood home where the massacre took place–and turned into a great exploration of trauma. Dixie Wheeler was a baby when her father murdered the entire family with an ax before turning the ax on himself. Now, a grown adult, she impulsively decides to move into the childhood home where the
Nov 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars! Such a fun listen, highly recommend! The writing is excellent and the main character is both hilarious and demented in the best way.
Oct 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Beginning - great
Middle - awful
End - okay

Full review to come later!
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Warning - some use of bad language that I don't choose to use or read (personal choice). Did I want to find out what was going to happen next? Yes. There were frequent twists in the plot, some of which I anticipated and some that I did not. Did I want to read and yet cover my eyes at the same time? Oh yes, this had lots of graphic details of a murder scene. There were several times when I questioned Dixie - "Why did you want to live in this particular house?" - and other characters - "Garrett, ...more
Morelia (Strandedinbooks)
This book has so much going for it, I was excited. Murder? Ghosts? Yes, please! And upon reading the first few chapters I was hooked by some of the graphic descriptions of the Wheeler massacre, by its gore, and I couldn’t wait to continue to the end!

However, I felt that there wasn’t enough within the story to have given us a proper whodunnit. In keeping a relatively small circle, one that I’m sure was meant to have the reader bouncing back between the few, instead gave way to a very
Stephanie (Stephanie's Novel Fiction~on hiatus))
4.5 Stars

First, I want to say that this book is filled with graphic violence, detailed acts of gruesome, inhumane acts of savagery and brutal murder. It might just be the bloodiest, goriest bookthat I've ever read. Ever. It's very dark and beyond disturbing so if you tend to stay away from books that read like that, then this definitely is not the book for you. With that said, I freaking loved T. Marie Vandelly's debut novel Theme Music!

When Dixie Wheeler was 18 months old, her father took
Madeline Nixon
Oct 01, 2019 rated it liked it
I hate it when a really good book falls flat. I loved the creepy vibes with the gruesome murders and ghostly figures in the house. That was probably my favourite part of the novel because it was so well done. But I wanted scarier and had been told it would be scarier. In addition to that, a little before halfway through the book it became glaringly obvious who really slaughtered the family, making me super disappointed when that reveal happened and my suspicion was true. I really wish this one ...more
Feb 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
A first novel, a good one, and the title gives nothing away. I like that. It’s not a shivery, goose-bumpy title at all, is it, but this is one spectacularly shivery thriller. Now, you know, I’ve read my share of mysteries and thrillers, and let me tell you that you won’t find fictional murders more horrifying than these. Not extravagant, opulent murders a la The Da Vinci Code, but murders in a perfectly ordinary kitchen – at breakfast. One survivor, and this is her story to tell, a story so ...more
Kate (kate_reads_)
Jul 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
How do I write a review for a book that left me speechless? I am tempted to just quote The Good Place and say “holy motherforking shirtballs” - go read this book. But - I will try to give you a little more.

Theme Music drops us into the life of Dixie Wheeler. 25 years ago, when she was less than 2 years old - one morning over breakfast her father violently killed her mother and three brothers before killing himself. That is difficult and dark and told to us in the opening pages of the book - with
Crystal Hiatt
Aug 16, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: wom2019-nyn
It's fairly clear that Vandelly wants this book to be the next 'Dark Places' by Gillian Flynn. She wasn't subtle in creating a novel that mimicked its (far better and more well written) predecessor. Similarities include: A family brutally massacred; the youngest child (a daughter in both) was the only survivor; questions regarding the identity of the real killer; an investigation into the long-ago murder to try and vindicate the accused party. The plots are so close, it almost seems like ...more
Aug 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
This may be one of the more intense and severe suspense books I've read. Not much phases me. I can handle just about anything that is delivered through the written word, but there were moments in this thriller about the sole survivor of an ax massacre the took the lives of her entire family that put me on edge.
Apr 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery-thriller
THIS BOOK IS CRAZY!!!! And I loved it from beginning to end. Nothing is what you think and everyone is suspicious. Such a good story.
Octavia (ReadsWithDogs)
" I didn't need to see how scared I was. The squirrelly quality of my heartbeat, the uncontrollable tremble in my knees, and
the prick of a million tiny icicle hairs against the back of my shirt were reminder enough. My hands were shaking so bad I could barely get the floss out of the container.
I shook my head as I took a seat on
the toilet, wiped my brow with toilet paper, and steadied my knees with cold fingertips. Everything would be better in the morning.
just had to get through the night....
Cassie-Traveling Sister-
Jul 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Before reading this book I do want to let my fellow readers know there are extremely graphic violence descriptions of murder scenes and narration about it as well! Dixie Wheeler lost her entire family to a brutal murder on Thanksgiving Day. The murder took place in the kitchen by her own father who then killed himself. Dixie who was a baby was unharmed and found sitting in her high chair covered in blood by her oldest brothers friend who also happened to be a neighbor. She was taken in by her ...more
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Though I have always wanted to write professionally, to actually have one of my novels published surpassed my wildest dreams. Theme Music is my first novel to be published, but it is not the first novel I wrote.
In my late twenties I wrote a horrible novel with the equally horrible title of "Shadowman." Thankfully, it was never published, but I look back on that sad, pitifully ill-conceived novel
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