by C. J. Cooke
Published September 29, 2020 by Berkley Publishing
Rating: 4 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Genre: Supernatural Thriller
The woods are creeping in on a nanny and two young girls in this chilling modern Gothic thriller.
Architect Tom Faraday is determined to finish the high-concept, environmentally friendly home he’s building in Norway—in the same place where he lost his wife, Aurelia, to suicide. It was their dream house, and he wants to honor her with it.
Lexi Ellis takes a job as his nanny and immediately falls in love with his two young daughters, especially Gaia. But something feels off in the isolated house nestled in the forest along the fjord. Lexi sees mysterious muddy footprints inside the home. Aurelia’s diary appears in Lexi’s room one day. And Gaia keeps telling her about seeing the terrifying Sad Lady. . . .
Soon Lexi suspects that Aurelia didn’t kill herself and that they are all in danger from something far more sinister lurking around them.
Parts of this novel read like a fairy tale (and there were fairy tales within the fairy tale), with beautiful, evocative language. And every once in a while, the main character Sophie (Lexi) slipped into vernacular, which made me smile because it was so unexpected.
The plot revolves around the wishes of Aurelia, who wanted a summer house in Norway because of the connection to her parents, who lived there. Her husband Tom is determined to follow through with this wish, after the first house is destroyed and after Aurelia is presumed to have committed suicide. The trials and tribulations that the people in the household (Sophie as the nanny, two little girls, Tom, and Tom’s partner and his wife), go through is gut wrenching and hard to read about.
I do not generally like “supernatural” explanations for events. I think it would have been interesting to tie Aurelia’s so-called suicide into a human caused event, with the fairy tale of the nokk as the coverup. There was a lot of repetition, and it seemed to take a while to get to the real story behind Aurelia’s “suicide”, but despite these misgivings, I still found the story different, interesting, and beautifully written.
Thanks to NetGalley, C.J. Cooke and Berkley Publishing Group for an advanced reader’s copy for review.
This review was authored by Patricia on October 10, 2020.