A memorable, disquieting ghost story about stories, rendered inside a Möbius strip.

THE REMAKING

After a mother and her daughter are murdered, their legacy evolves into a ghost story that haunts generations.

Horror on film is relatively easy: jump scares, gore, the occasional torture porn, and always the final girls. Horror in fiction is a little trickier, but occasionally you get something special like Mark Z. Danielewski’s puzzle box, House of Leaves (2000), John Ajvide Lindqvist’s Let the Right One In (2007), or, more recently, Josh Malerman’s runaway hit Bird Box (2014). Chapman’s (Nothing Untoward, 2017, etc.) spooky story solidly fits the mold of nothing you’ve ever read before. The book is divided into quarters, each entirely original yet always connected and deeply unnerving. The opener finds an old coot recounting the story of a woman named Ella Loise Ford, known to the small town of Pilot’s Creek, Virginia, to be a witch. The men in the town don’t take kindly to this, and in 1931, they set the woman ablaze, along with her young daughter, Jessica, whose resting place would become the legend known as “The Witch Girl’s Grave at Pilot’s Creek.” Jump forward to 1971, and their story is being made into a B-quality horror film directed by an obsessive filmmaker and starring a young ingénue named Amber who discovers these terrifying woods hold much more than just rumors. By the mid-1990s, Amber, now a burned-out, Klonopin-addicted scream queen, takes over the story to recall her role in an ill-fated remake of the cult classic that nearly killed her. By the modern day, there’s yet another shift, as a budding podcaster named Nate Denison tracks down an aged Amber to discover what’s really waiting out there in the woods. Something like Stephen King’s imperfect masterpiece The Shining (1977), this book is not always completely coherent, but it’s a deeply eerie and evocative portrayal of what it’s like to stare into the abyss and find something there waiting for you.

A memorable, disquieting ghost story about stories, rendered inside a Möbius strip.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68369-153-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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

THEN SHE WAS GONE

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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Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how...

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THE A LIST

A convicted killer’s list of five people he wants dead runs the gamut from the wife he’s already had murdered to franchise heroine Ali Reynolds.

Back in the day, women came from all over to consult Santa Clarita fertility specialist Dr. Edward Gilchrist. Many of them left his care happily pregnant, never dreaming that the father of the babies they carried was none other than the physician himself, who donated his own sperm rather than that of the handsome, athletic, disease-free men pictured in his scrapbook. When Alexandra Munsey’s son, Evan, is laid low by the kidney disease he’s inherited from his biological father and she returns to Gilchrist in search of the donor’s medical records, the roof begins to fall in on him. By the time it’s done falling, he’s serving a life sentence in Folsom Prison for commissioning the death of his wife, Dawn, the former nurse and sometime egg donor who’d turned on him. With nothing left to lose, Gilchrist tattoos himself with the initials of five people he blames for his fall: Dawn; Leo Manuel Aurelio, the hit man he’d hired to dispose of her; Kaitlyn Todd, the nurse/receptionist who took Dawn’s place; Alex Munsey, whose search for records upset his apple cart; and Ali Reynolds, the TV reporter who’d helped put Alex in touch with the dozen other women who formed the Progeny Project because their children looked just like hers. No matter that Ali’s been out of both California and the news business for years; Gilchrist and his enablers know that revenge can’t possibly be served too cold. Wonder how far down that list they’ll get before Ali, aided once more by Frigg, the methodical but loose-cannon AI first introduced in Duel to the Death (2018), turns on them?

Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how little the boundary-challenged AI, who gets into the case more or less inadvertently, differs from your standard human sidekick with issues.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5101-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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