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A HAUNTING ON THE HILL

A timeless, gothic ode that serves up the stuff of nightmares.

A struggling band of hopeful artists wander into the malevolent orbit of Hill House in this contemporary restaging of Shirley Jackson’s classic novel.

Looking to escape New York City in the wake of the pandemic, Holly Sherwin and her partner, Nisa Macari, enjoy exploring charming “little towns long since colonized by self-styled artists and artisans.” Holly, once a promising playwright, is now teaching English at a private school but has recently won a grant to produce the witchy play that may just revive her career. When she stumbles upon a creepy old mansion on an isolated hill, she knows she’s found the perfect place to hole up with the small cast for two weeks of intensive rehearsals. Never mind that the owner is shady; never mind that the one neighbor threatens her with a knife as she drives by; never mind that the caretakers refuse to spend the night, ever, in the house—Holly knows it’s going to galvanize her cast into the performances of their lives. When they all gather for a run-through of the script, she can feel the magic, the electricity in the air. But maybe the house’s energy reflects more than the power of her words; there are also unexplained bloodstains on a tablecloth, an unearthly field of cold by the nursery, and mysterious voices at night. Not to mention the horrible black hares that keep popping up. Are they real or imaginary? Yes, and yes. While the novel doesn’t draw any kind of straight line between Jackson’s characters and Hand’s, other than some “echoing” voices on a recording, clearly this novel is shaped around Jackson’s legacy, not only in the setting, but also in the characters, specifically the relationship between Holly and Nisa. What she offers, then, is not merely retelling or update, but almost palimpsest.

A timeless, gothic ode that serves up the stuff of nightmares.

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2023

ISBN: 9780316527323

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Mulholland Books/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023

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DAUGHTER OF MINE

Small-town claustrophobia and intimacies alike propel this twist-filled psychological thriller.

The loss of her police officer father and the discovery of an abandoned car in a local lake raise chilling questions regarding a young woman’s family history.

When Hazel Sharp returns to her hometown of Mirror Lake, North Carolina, for her father’s memorial, she and the other townspeople are confronted by a challenging double whammy: As they’re grieving the loss of beloved longtime police officer Detective Perry Holt, a disturbing sight appears in the lake, whose waterline is receding because of an ongoing drought—an old, unidentifiable car, which has likely been lurking there for years. Hazel temporarily leaves her Charlotte-based building-renovation business in the capable hands of her partners and reconnects with her brothers, Caden and Gage; her Uncle Roy; her old fling and neighbor, Nico; and her schoolfriend, Jamie, now a mother and married to Caden. Tiny, relentless suspicions rise to the metaphorical surface along with that waterlogged vehicle: There have been a slew of minor break-ins; two people go missing; and then, a second abandoned car is discovered. The novel digs deeper into Hazel’s family history—her father was a widow when he married Hazel’s mother, who later left the family, absconding with money and jewels—and Miranda, a consummate professional when it comes to exposing the small community tensions that naturally arise when people live in close proximity for generations, exposes revelation after twisty revelation: “Everything mattered disproportionately in a small town. Your success, but also your failure. Everyone knows might as well have been our town motto.”

Small-town claustrophobia and intimacies alike propel this twist-filled psychological thriller.

Pub Date: April 9, 2024

ISBN: 9781668010440

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Marysue Rucci Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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THEN SHE WAS GONE

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. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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