Hidden history and 21st-century technology collide in a breathtaking thriller.

SECLUDED CABIN SLEEPS SIX

A luxury vacation turns into a chain-reaction explosion of dark secrets in this tense tale.

Hannah frets over being away from her baby daughter for the first time, but she and her workaholic husband, Bruce, do need a break. And the vacation Hannah’s older brother, Mako, has arranged sounds too sumptuous to pass up: a long weekend in a luxury cabin deep in the North Georgia woods, complete with gourmet chef, in-house massage, and more. Mako has become wildly wealthy running a video game company, and he’s picking up the tab for all of it. The group also includes Mako’s wife, Liza, whom Hannah hopes to get closer to, and Hannah’s longtime best friend (and Mako’s ex-girlfriend), party girl Cricket. The only unknown is Cricket’s new boyfriend, Joshua. Well, Hannah thinks that’s the only unknown, but she’ll be proven wrong. The three couples arrive for the summer getaway despite a tropical storm brewing in the Atlantic that could curve their way. There are tales of ghosts on the property that suggest past violence there, but those could just be an inventive selling point. The host and cabin owner, Bracken, definitely has a creepy air, though (and almost no online footprint), and even scarier, his promise of Wi-Fi might not be reliable. This is Unger’s 20th novel, and she builds tension skillfully from Page 1 of a prologue about Christmas dinner with Hannah’s family, which ends bitterly over a mysterious gift of DNA test kits for everyone, which everyone claims to know nothing about. By the time the vacationers reach the cabin, the ominous mood is in place and everything seems disturbing, from the gleaming array of knives in the kitchen to a skull-shaped chandelier. Before they even make it through the first night’s dinner, one of the six disappears, and so does contact with the outside world. The others begin a frantic search as the storm blows in and as it becomes clear that all of them are in peril—but from whom, and why?

Hidden history and 21st-century technology collide in a breathtaking thriller.

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-778-33323-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Park Row Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 10, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2022

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A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

FAIRY TALE

Narnia on the Penobscot: a grand, and naturally strange, entertainment from the ever prolific King.

What’s a person to do when sheltering from Covid? In King’s case, write something to entertain himself while reflecting on what was going on in the world outside—ravaged cities, contentious politics, uncertainty. King’s yarn begins in a world that’s recognizably ours, and with a familiar trope: A young woman, out to buy fried chicken, is mashed by a runaway plumber’s van, sending her husband into an alcoholic tailspin and her son into a preadolescent funk, driven “bugfuck” by a father who “was always trying to apologize.” The son makes good by rescuing an elderly neighbor who’s fallen off a ladder, though he protests that the man’s equally elderly German shepherd, Radar, was the true hero. Whatever the case, Mr. Bowditch has an improbable trove of gold in his Bates Motel of a home, and its origin seems to lie in a shed behind the house, one that Mr. Bowditch warns the boy away from: “ ‘Don’t go in there,’ he said. ‘You may in time, but for now don’t even think of it.’ ” It’s not Pennywise who awaits in the underworld behind the shed door, but there’s plenty that’s weird and unexpected, including a woman, Dora, whose “skin was slate gray and her face was cruelly deformed,” and a whole bunch of people—well, sort of people, anyway—who’d like nothing better than to bring their special brand of evil up to our world’s surface. King’s young protagonist, Charlie Reade, is resourceful beyond his years, but it helps that the old dog gains some of its youthful vigor in the depths below. King delivers a more or less traditional fable that includes a knowing nod: “I think I know what you want,” Charlie tells the reader, "and now you have it”—namely, a happy ending but with a suitably sardonic wink.

A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66800-217-9

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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A unique story of transcendent love.

LAYLA

An aimless young musician meets the girl of his dreams only to have his newfound happiness threatened by several inexplicable—and possibly supernatural—events.

The story opens as Leeds Gabriel meets with a detective while his girlfriend, Layla, is restrained in a room one flight above them. Through the interview, readers learn that Leeds was wasting both his time and his musical talent playing backup for a small-town wedding troupe called Garrett’s Band when he spied Layla dancing her heart out to their mediocre music at a wedding. When Leeds approaches Layla, their connection is both instant and intense. A blissful courtship follows, but then Leeds makes the mistake of posting a picture of himself with Layla on social media. A former girlfriend–turned-stalker wastes no time in finding and attacking Layla. Layla spends months recovering in a hospital, and it seems the girl Leeds fell for might be forever changed. Gone is her special spark, her quirkiness, and the connection that had entranced Leeds months before. In a last-ditch effort to save their relationship, he brings Layla back to the bed-and-breakfast where they first met. When they get there, though, Leeds meets Willow, another guest, and finds himself drawn to her in spite of himself. As events unfold, it becomes clear that Willow will either be the key to saving Leeds’ relationship with Layla or the catalyst that finally extinguishes the last shreds of their epic romance. Told entirely from Leeds’ point of view, the author’s first foray into paranormal romance does not disappoint. Peppered with elements of mystery, psychological thriller, and contemporary romance, the novel explores questions about how quickly true love can develop, as well as the conflicts that can imperil even the strongest connections. Despite a limited cast of characters and very few setting changes, the narrative manages to remain both fast-paced and engaging. The conclusion leaves a few too many loose ends, but the chemistry between the characters and unexpected twists throughout make for a satisfying read.

A unique story of transcendent love.

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-0017-8

Page Count: 301

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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