This debut novella had been getting a lot of hype ever since its release in September. Sometimes hype can do a disservice to a book or film, as expectations can be raised too high. But in this case, I’m pleased to say it was justified.
Marceau crafts a chilling exploration of Miller and her mother Sylvia’s broken relationship and how that plays out over a weekend at an isolated cabin. The loving but passive-aggressive nature of Sylvie is painful to read, as she feels all too real before things start to go off the deep end.
Miller tries to overbearing humour and placate her over-bearing mother, often resorting to caving and apologising to avoid further conflict. What starts out as a fairly normal, albeit strained, trip to an isolated cabin, quickly becomes fraught and then downright sinister as odd things start to happen, such as Sylvie ruining her daughters' clothes and forcing her to dress as she did as a child. And things only get worse (and weirder) from there.
The novella has shades of Misery and The Lodge but they are just reference points. Marceau builds two very distinct and realistic characters here, complete with a lifetime's worth of familial trauma. The very definition of a page-turner, Marceau skilfully escalates the tension and shocks into a crescendo of horror.
Believe the hype.