In this horror story set in colonial New England, a law-abiding Puritan woman goes missing. Or perhaps she has fled or abandoned her family. Or perhaps she's been kidnapped, and set loose to wander in the dense woods of the north. Alone and possibly lost, she meets another woman in the forest. Then everything changes.
With the universal tone of 'once upon a time,' Hunt conjures the stories we heard as children ... Those who have read Hunt’s other recent novels will note similarities—a historical American backdrop, intriguing female main characters, a colloquial first-person voice with a distinctive cadence and poetic cleverness ... this one takes off at a full gallop and never looks back. In just over 200 pages, Hunt evokes countless stories embedded in the American consciousness, from Grimms’ fairy tales to Washington Irving’s creepy stories of the early 1800s. And while there are no outright references to the witch trials, he seems to pay homage to Salem with the names of his characters, Eliza and Goody ... So prepare yourself. This is a perfect book to read when you’re safely tucked in your home, your back to the wall, while outside your door the wind rips the leaves from the trees and the woods grow dark.
... an unexpected story of servitude, deceit, and surprise ... From the start, Hunt’s language establishes the oddness of this world: it is vague and distant, nearly an abstraction ... It is a treasure hunt and a delightful, terrifying puzzle ... There are threads that never come back around and moments that feel superfluous ... However, Hunt’s woods are magical enough to allow for such gaps, and the story’s imbedded questions drive the narrative quickly past these small hiccups ... storytelling is a business that requires diligent care, and the novel Hunt has constructed around her serves as a brilliant example.
Hunt’s accomplished prose creates the atmosphere of possibility and danger that lurks in the best fairy tales, where anything can happen but everything has a cost. Highly recommended for fans of that amorphous border between fantasy, horror, and literary fiction.