A stylish and well-crafted horror debut.

THE RETURN

Two years ago, Julie disappeared while hiking alone in Acadia National Park. Now she’s back.

Julie’s husband, Tristan, and her best friends, Elise, Mae, and Molly, were devastated when she didn’t return home from her trip. After a year, a funeral was held with no body. Everyone close to Julie was certain she was dead except for Elise, and on the two-year anniversary of her vanishing, Julie proves Elise right. Tristan finds her sitting on their porch swing with no memory of the time she was gone. With so many questions surrounding Julie’s return, Elise is surprised when Mae arranges a girls' trip to the Catskills' eclectic (themed rooms!) Red Honey Inn over Columbus Day weekend. Julie is the last to arrive, and her emaciated appearance is jarring. She’s not the vibrant woman Elise remembers, but she’s undeniably her beloved friend, and the four look forward to a fun reunion. The weather is frightful, though; Elise’s room is frigid; and Julie is acting very oddly, to say the least. Julie was a vegetarian, but now she has a ravenous hunger for rare meat and smells like an abattoir. Then there’s the shadowy figure Elise keeps glimpsing in her room. Harrison skillfully portrays the bond between the four longtime friends, complete with secrets and tension, but always against a background of palpable affection. As Elise, who narrates, says, “I’m so happy to be with them and to be the version of myself I am when I’m around them.” Unfortunately, though, it's increasingly obvious to Elise, Mae, and Molly that they need to get to the bottom of what’s happening to Julie, who is deteriorating before their eyes. Harrison successfully sustains a low, visceral dread throughout that eventually builds to a shocking crescendo, and whispers of The Shining haunt the Red Honey Inn’s gloriously gaudy halls. Patient readers who appreciate a slow burn with an explosive payoff will be rewarded. This girls’ trip has teeth.

A stylish and well-crafted horror debut.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09866-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

ALL YOUR PERFECTS

Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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The emotions run high, the conversations run deep, and the relationships ebb and flow with grace.

REGRETTING YOU

When tragedy strikes, a mother and daughter forge a new life.

Morgan felt obligated to marry her high school sweetheart, Chris, when she got pregnant with their daughter, Clara. But she secretly got along much better with Chris’ thoughtful best friend, Jonah, who was dating her sister, Jenny. Now her life as a stay-at-home parent has left her feeling empty but not ungrateful for what she has. Jonah and Jenny eventually broke up, but years later they had a one-night stand and Jenny got pregnant with their son, Elijah. Now Jonah is back in town, engaged to Jenny, and working at the local high school as Clara’s teacher. Clara dreams of being an actress and has a crush on Miller, who plans to go to film school, but her father doesn't approve. It doesn’t help that Miller already has a jealous girlfriend who stalks him via text from college. But Clara and Morgan’s home life changes radically when Chris and Jenny are killed in an accident, revealing long-buried secrets and forcing Morgan to reevaluate the life she chose when early motherhood forced her hand. Feeling betrayed by the adults in her life, Clara marches forward, acting both responsible and rebellious as she navigates her teenage years without her father and her aunt, while Jonah and Morgan's relationship evolves in the wake of the accident. Front-loaded with drama, the story leaves plenty of room for the mother and daughter to unpack their feelings and decide what’s next.

The emotions run high, the conversations run deep, and the relationships ebb and flow with grace.

Pub Date: Dec. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-1642-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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