Hoping to rejuvenate their flagging writing careers, Clare and Jess Martin inadvertently move into a haunted house. Not everyone will survive.
Back in college, both Clare and Jess were promising writers who met in the exclusive seminar taught by the enigmatic Alden Montague. Now Clare works as a copy editor to pay the bills, which have piled up since the advance on Jess’ second—still unfinished—novel ran out. Luckily, Montague offers them the position of caretakers at his Hudson River Valley estate, Riven House. But perhaps luck has little to do with the offer. Goodman (River Road, 2016, etc.) brilliantly channels the conventions of the Gothic ghost story. The road to Riven House is as dark, twisted, and broken down as the house itself, an octagonal rarity riddled with water damage, abandoned rooms, and a painted-shut dumbwaiter. Indeed, she has cleverly imbued the very bones of the architecture with allusions to Shirley Jackson and Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Once ensconced in Riven House, both Jess and Clare begin to write. Inspired by Montague’s story of how his great-grandfather broke the heart of the local Apple Blossom Queen, Clare begins to research the legend, discovering uncanny parallels to her own life. Illicit loves, illegitimate births, lost children, mothers driven mad—the Montague family’s past soon pierces the veil of Clare’s life. As the haunting intensifies, Clare sees shadowy women on the edge of the weir, hears invisible babies crying in the wee hours, and peels back layer after layer of identical wallpaper in the nursery. Goodman ratchets up the psychological tension, making Clare question everyone she has ever trusted. Why were her adoptive parents so distant? Why did Jess lie about his job offer back in Brooklyn? Who can be trusted?
A spellbinding and delicious ghost story.