by Stage, Zoje

Moving to a rural farmhouse in far upstate New York, Orla, a retired dancer, must protect her family from an unknown entity that is calling to them from the land, in the earth, beneath the trees, and in their minds.

Zoje Stage is the USA Today and internationally bestselling author of Baby Teeth. A former filmmaker with a penchant for the dark and suspenseful, she lives in Pittsburgh..

*Starred Review* A beautifully choreographed and astonishing second novel from the author of the much-celebrated Baby Teeth (2018). Shaw and Orla Bennett decide to leave their cherished Manhattan apartment because they need more space for their two young children and for Shaw's artistic pursuits, and Orla is concerned that city living is taking its toll on their daughter, Eleanor Queen, who has become fearful and neurotic. What they encounter at their new home, a rural farmhouse in upstate New York, will challenge the child's psyche in ways she could never have imagined. The discovery that there were tuberculosis "cure cottages" on the property and that many souls perished there seems to explain the overall eeriness of the land. The scary dreams are just part of the off-grid adjustment, right? And then there is a grim and massive evergreen tree out back, surrounded by smaller trees, "like attendants in waiting." Waiting patiently, it turns out, for the unknown entity that dwells within it to possess Eleanor Queen. Eventually Orla is left alone with the children, snowbound and unable to contact the outside world, with starvation imminent and the trees inching ever closer to the house as the evil manifests itself. This book is being marketed as "Shirley Jackson meets The Shining," and it delivers. The horror genre has found an eloquent and unflinching new author. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

A plot of land becomes a family's prison. Ballet dancer Orla Moreau has long been the Moreau-Bennett clan's breadwinner, but now that she's 41, it's time for her to retire and watch the kids while her husband, 38-year-old painter Shaw Bennett, pursues his dream. Nature inspires Shaw, and their money will go further up north, so they put their New York City co-op on the market and start house hunting. When a realtor shows them a dilapidated dwelling on six remote acres in the Adirondacks, they pass; although Shaw feels drawn to a 500-year-old Eastern white pine that occupies the property, an isolated fixer-upper isn't what they had in mind. In the ensuing months, though, Shaw grows obsessed with the tree—dreaming about it, painting it—so when the price drops, they take the plunge and sink their savings into renovations. Orla, Shaw, and their children, 9-year-old Eleanor Queen and 4-year-old Tycho, move in after Thanksgiving, anticipating an idyllic winter in the country. Instead, Shaw turns manic and dista nt, Eleanor Queen senses an entity trying to communicate with her, and the homestead is beset by inexplicable phenomena. Attempts to leave are not only thwarted, but punished. Orla resolves to figure out what is tormenting her family and why, but she might not like the answer. Author Stage perfectly captures the fears and frictions that accompany household moves and career changes; indeed, her keen portrayal of domestic upset is what grounds the story and imparts verisimilitude. Regrettably, the book's bigger emotional beats fail to resonate, blunting the tale's impact, and a silly denouement further disappoints. What starts as a creepy slow burn fizzles in the homestretch. Copyright Kirkus 2020 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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