An atmospheric and engrossing modern-day Gothic tale about the lengths to which a desperate couple will go.


In this emotional thriller, a couple strikes a Faustian bargain in order to have a child.

Gabe and Carly Berk have been married for six years, and that whole time they’ve been trying to conceive a baby, without success. Desperately trying every strategy, they’re now willing to grasp at any straw. For them, “euphoria could not be spelled any sweeter than b-a-b-y.” The Berks are surrounded by a well-drawn cast of supporting characters who are either indifferent to their quest for a baby (such as Megan, a child from Gabe’s first marriage, now grown into a somewhat surly teenager) or puzzled by its urgency (such as Gabe’s father, the “quite lovable, rock-solid Yehuda Berkowitz”). But the couple’s fortunes take a sharp turn when they encounter “the renowned specialist of last resort” Dr. Isadore Teplitsky, who guarantees to solve the Berks’ fertility problems, but who asks quite a bit in exchange. First, they must pack up and move to Island Bluffs, a small, sleepy town on the Jersey Shore, near Teplitsky’s clinic. This strikes the Berks as odd, yet it’s nothing compared with the follow-up: Teplitsky will not only guarantee the couple a baby, he’ll guarantee them twins—one of whom must be surrendered at birth to Teplitsky, without hesitation or question. Gabe, who prides himself on making sound decisions, at first balks at this horrific bargain: “I didn’t sign up for us to have someone else’s baby.” Oddly, it’s Carly who overrides such concerns: “If this is the price we have to pay to have our baby, then we are doing it.” Gabe and Carly—and Megan and Yehuda—all move to Island Bluffs, and Winter’s sure-footed novel follows the twists and turns of their discovery of the secrets hidden behind its quaint facade. There’s a thick atmosphere of dread: the Stepford-esque conformity of most of the town’s inhabitants, the tyrannical sheriff, the well-developed tension when Megan and Yehuda find a pile of human bones in a locked basement room of the couple’s dream house. “What did we get ourselves into?” Gabe wonders at one point. “What did I get everyone into?” The dread only increases as the Berks steadily uncover more dark secrets, including an echo of the Nazi Germany that Yehuda only barely escaped. Winter (Savior’s Day, 2013) keeps what could have been a fairly predictable plot moving briskly, and the climactic series of revelations is handled with smooth control and a good deal of dark humor.

An atmospheric and engrossing modern-day Gothic tale about the lengths to which a desperate couple will go.

Pub Date: June 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-1937506865

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: April 23, 2015

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.


Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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