Two sisters raised in fear are about to find out why in a chilling novel of psychological suspense from the author of The Thinnest Air.
Ignorant of civilisation and cautioned against evils, nineteen-year-old Wren and her two sister, Sage and Evie, were raised in off-the-grid isolation in a primitive cabin in upstate New York. When the youngest grows gravely ill, their mother leaves with the child to get help from a nearby town. And they never return.
As months pass, hope vanishes. Supplies are low. Livestock are dying. A brutal winter is bearing down. Then comes the stranger. He claims to be looking for the girls’ mother, and he’s not leaving without them.
To escape, Wren and her sister must break the rule they’ve grown up with: never go beyond the forest.
Past the thicket of dread, they come upon a house on the other side of the pines. This is where Wren and Sage must confront something more chilling than the unknowable. They’ll discover what’s been hidden from them, what they’re running from, and the secrets that have left them in the dark their entire lives.
Thank you to Thomas and Mercer, NetGalley and Minka Kent for the chance to read and review this book.
I tore through this compelling thriller in less than 24 hours. It was my first read by this author but it won’t be my last.
Wren and Sage have been alone since their Mama left with their sister Evie 63 days ago. Their supplies are dwindling and Wren isn’t sure they’ll survive the coming winter and is losing hope of Mama returning. The girls have never left their secluded cabin on the edge of Stillwater Forest, always cautioned to fear what lurks beyond it. But then a man knocks at their door claiming to be looking for their mother. He keeps asking questions and says he won’t leave without them so Wren decides they have to break Mama’s rule. They have to go into the forest. Gripping each other’s hands the sisters battle their overwhelming fear to escape and find help beyond the trees. But neither girl is prepared for what they find on the other side of the forest and for their whole lives to be turned upside down. Long hidden secrets are revealed and lies uncovered as the authorities try to discover the girl’s identities and search for their missing mother and sister.
I don’t like putting spoilers in my reviews which makes it difficult to say much about what happens after the sister’s leave their home. I was gripped from the first page and though I didn’t have any inkling of the twists, turns and revelations that would leave me reeling, I could tell this was going to be a book that saw seemingly unrelated things converge.
Wren and Sage are two of the most innocent characters I’ve ever read. They are oblivious to the real world, never having heard of electricity or a flushing, inside toilet. They are vulnerable, terrified, dazed and full of wonder at life outside the cabin. Wren in particular relishes the freedom to make simple choices and begins to see how dominating and deceitful her Mama had been. Having Wren as a narrator helped me connect to her and made the abnormal situations feel believable. I had a lot of empathy for the girls and I was rooting for them to have a happy ending after all they had gone through.
The Stillwater Girls is a thrilling, fast paced and compelling book that pulls you into the world of it’s characters. The author has the ability how to keep the reader in the dark about what’s coming but still keep them so emerged in the story that they can’t stop reading. The only downside for me is that it was over too quickly.
Out April 9th.