A dark novella focuses on the primal fears that befall parents—and anyone else who has endured the uncertainty of sleepless nights.
Parents often talk of the long evenings that come with caring for a newborn, but Richard and Lissa Platte face another level of struggle. Their 14-month-old child, Asher, has night terrors, and they’ve barely slept in the last six months. For Richard, every evening turns into “an ocean without shores.” He sadly wonders about the “terrible dreams” that plague his son. As the Plattes’ grip on reality slips away—Asher fussing and biting at day care, Lissa faltering on the careful preparation and style that propelled her to manage her own salon, and Richard losing time and awareness, forgetting the simplest of tasks or obligations—they begin to question whether something more sinister is going on. The flickering lights and sounds of their baby monitor seem to taunt them, and they each know that a breaking point—and a reckoning—will come. Their home, their lives, their jobs, their family have all become haunted, and when they find out what’s to blame, there’s no telling if they’ll ever recover. Ingwalson’s (Owl & Raccoon: Locked, 2016, etc.) narrative is effective and suspenseful, and while the conclusion at first appears to be a standard, urban legend-style twist, the ending is more complex and satisfying than that. At times, the prose needs some editing, as convoluted sentences get in the way of the mood: “She picks her phone up from a bedside table she found antiquing and sanded down and replaced the handles with little jewels and she did all these things herself.” But there are certainly instances when the minimalist writing style really impacts the reader, cutting to the core of the story: “There comes a moment when adults see past the flesh, past the noise and know themselves, and Richard thinks, Oh please, please don’t let this be that moment. This can’t be me.” While some readers may feel that the short length leads to a lack of details about the characters and their surroundings, others should enjoy the tight pacing and claustrophobic dynamic.
A taut, disturbing family tale.