What fears keep you up at night? Forced career change? Being separated from your family? ... The Retreat vividly renders all those fears—and more—in a book which will probably keep you up until dawn, caught up in its thriller elements, and likely dealing with fears of your own ... Mariaffi has built a reputation...for weaving the elements of genre fiction with keen attention to women’s lives and a strong literary bent. She outdoes herself here ... de Mariaffi has created a thought-provoking thriller ... Maeve is a richly rendered, carefully drawn character ... e Mariaffi vividly humanizes what might, in lesser hands, have been a pro-forma, overly familiar thriller. Instead, The Retreat shines, at once thoughtful and chilling, familiar and unsettling.
De Mariaffi takes her time—perhaps too much—setting the stage and layering on the suspense in her deliberately paced and atmospheric book. The first death doesn’t occur until the novel’s halfway point ... De Mariaffi is content to leave it ambiguous. Deaths occur...but Maeve does not witness them herself, leaving the question of what exactly happened unclear ... the environment at the center ends up calling up past ghosts. After she left him, Iain pursued Maeve from city to city, and that predator-prey dynamic is replicated in the book’s tense final chapter, as she finds herself being hunted across High Water’s treacherous frozen grounds.