THE CRUEL DARK

A haunting and atmospheric work that’s likely to captivate genre fans.

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Northwick offers a gothic romance about a young woman with a tragic past who discovers more tragedy while working as a researcher at a decades-old estate.

The story picks up with Millie Foxboro’s journey to a place called Willowfield; the estate is located 120 miles outside Boston, where she works in a bookstore. She’s been hired as a research assistant by brooding professor Callum Hughes, a noted scholar of Celtic lore and the wealthy owner of a large perfumery business. Millie learns of the professor’s own difficult past and the ghosts that continue to haunt him and the once-grand Willowfield. As the story goes, when the professor brought his new wife to the sprawling estate, the pressure of the house became overwhelming; as a result, she spiraled into an obsession with evil spirits of Celtic folklore and the unusual flora that adorn the mansion. She eventually threw herself into a nearby ravine and drowned in the river at the bottom, plunging Callum into profound grief. When Millie arrives, the estate has fallen into disrepair and is haunted by many things, including memories that oddly parallel events in her own difficult past. Northwick presents a dark love story that sparkles with elements of gothic horror and more modern romance as Millie explores the dark secrets hidden in Willowfield’s shadows and reveals a few of her own, showing the devastating effects of trauma. Rich and lush natural scenery winds its way around this work like a pervasive vine: “There were pergolas, cherry blossom tunnels, and innumerable bramble arches and clusters of broom waiting patiently to flower. A majestic weeping willow sighed low over a murky pond where a stone kelpie reared half out of the water, searching for a rider.” The prose often reflects the conflict between staid society and the wildness within each of the characters. While some readers may struggle with the slow-burn romance and often quiet tone, many will find this work to be thrilling.

A haunting and atmospheric work that’s likely to captivate genre fans.

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 2023

ISBN: 9798988473824

Page Count: 226

Publisher: Northwick Books LLC

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2023

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IT ENDS WITH US

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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IT STARTS WITH US

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

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The sequel to It Ends With Us (2016) shows the aftermath of domestic violence through the eyes of a single mother.

Lily Bloom is still running a flower shop; her abusive ex-husband, Ryle Kincaid, is still a surgeon. But now they’re co-parenting a daughter, Emerson, who's almost a year old. Lily won’t send Emerson to her father’s house overnight until she’s old enough to talk—“So she can tell me if something happens”—but she doesn’t want to fight for full custody lest it become an expensive legal drama or, worse, a physical fight. When Lily runs into Atlas Corrigan, a childhood friend who also came from an abusive family, she hopes their friendship can blossom into love. (For new readers, their history unfolds in heartfelt diary entries that Lily addresses to Finding Nemo star Ellen DeGeneres as she considers how Atlas was a calming presence during her turbulent childhood.) Atlas, who is single and running a restaurant, feels the same way. But even though she’s divorced, Lily isn’t exactly free. Behind Ryle’s veneer of civility are his jealousy and resentment. Lily has to plan her dates carefully to avoid a confrontation. Meanwhile, Atlas’ mother returns with shocking news. In between, Lily and Atlas steal away for romantic moments that are even sweeter for their authenticity as Lily struggles with child care, breastfeeding, and running a business while trying to find time for herself.

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-668-00122-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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