In the near future, a man and his wife are visited by a mysterious stranger offering a chance for previously unimagined adventure, though the true exploration—and danger—might be closer to home.
Junior and Henrietta live in a dilapidated but cozy rural farmhouse, deep in a sea of canola fields, with only a few chickens for company. Their isolation is both comforting and eerie, a combination Reid pulled off exceptionally well in I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2016). Then a man named Terrance arrives with an outlandish prospect: Junior is on the long list of lottery participants chosen to take part in the Installation, a temporary space resettlement project run by OuterMore. Though Terrance’s enthusiasm is palpable, and unnerving, Junior and Hen are understandably leery. With all the cheer of a traveling Bible salesman, Terrance departs, promising to be back if Junior moves up the list. Two years pass in a flash, with Junior going about his job at the mill and Hen sinking into a minor depression of sorts. Like the warning of potential yet probable future disease, dread over Terrance’s return settles over the narrative, and Junior and Hen's relationship, which at first seems strong, wobbles. As Junior moves up the list and his departure becomes more certainty than possibility, cracks appear in the marriage; Junior struggles with memories of his past, and Hen confronts her husband with feelings she’s kept hidden for years. Terrance’s role as observer and cataloger as he prepares the couple for the Installation is claustrophobic yet revealing, and Reid builds to a deeply unsettling climax.
As much a surgical dissection of what makes a marriage as an expertly paced, sparsely detailed psychological thriller, this is one to read with the lights on.