Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
A grieving teen contends with increasingly horrific happenings in this gothic queer romance by McCauley (We Can Be Heroes). Following her mother's death in a train accident, 17-year-old Marin Blythe moves in with a family friend: renowned, reclusive horror writer Alice Lovelace. Acting as nanny for Alice's youngest daughters, Thea and Wren, Marin deems her new charges as "half-feral" with cruel senses of humor. Their escalating pranks, including an attempt to persuade Marin into eating poisonous nightshade, leave her with no mental space to process her grief. On top of that, Lovelace House--which is surrounded by eerie woods--is purportedly cursed. The only bright spot is the girls' older sister Evie, 17 and newly returned from school. While the teens' blossoming romance helps Marin temporarily forget the house's supposed blight, the sudden appearance of eviscerated animal corpses on the edge of the woods sows new fears. McCauley skillfully wrangles haunting atmosphere, anticipatory tension, and macabre humor to cultivate a slow-boiling thriller couched in a decades-old mystery. The sweet connection between Marin and Evie is solid and affirming, providing levying contrast to occasional moments of gruesome imagery and outright horror. Major characters cue as white. Ages 14--up. Agent: Suzie Townsend, New Leaf Literary. (May)
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Review by Kirkus Book Review
An odd house, a family haunted by secrets, and the girl who arrives to unravel it all. Since her mother's recent tragic death, 17-year-old Marin Blythe is all alone in the world, without a place to live or any money to support herself. A lifeline comes through an invitation from famous horror writer Alice Lovelace, her mom's old childhood friend, who offers Marin room and board in her remote house in Maine in exchange for taking care of her younger children, Thea and Wren, while she finishes her latest novel. But from the moment she arrives, Marin notices something is off at Lovelace House, from Alice's strangely disconnected behavior and the kids' increasingly unkind pranks to the house's secret corners and the dead, mutilated animals that appear everywhere. It's only when Evie, Alice's beautiful teen daughter, comes home from school that Marin slowly finds the answers she is looking for and starts to fall in love--just as events spiral out of control. This gothic story merges horror and a lovely queer romance with a helping of the fantastical in what is ultimately a story about grieving, secrets, and belonging. Marin's yearning for a place to belong informs most of the narrative, which starts off with her as the outsider looking in but shifts as she slowly but surely carves her way into becoming part of the family in unexpected ways. Main characters are cued White. Beautiful and textured. (Gothic romance. 14-18) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.