A spellbinding thriller for fans of Gilded Age fiction.

THE GIRLS WITH NO NAMES

In the early 1910s, the House of Mercy, a home for wayward girls, looms over the posh Tildon estate in upper Manhattan. Will the Tildon daughters fall into its clutches?

Born with a heart condition that should have ended her life in infancy, 13-year-old Effie Tildon adores her older sister, Luella. When they discover a band of Roma camping near their home, their curiosity is sparked, and the two sisters begin sneaking out to sing, dance, and have their fortunes told. Even though their parents would be shocked, Effie and Luella know they are simply having some fun, exploring a new world. But discovering that their father, Emory, has a shameful secret drives Luella from home. Convinced that her parents have had Luella incarcerated in the House of Mercy (an American version of the notorious Magdalene laundries that plagued unfortunate Irish girls), Effie contrives to rescue her. Once inside the House of Mercy, she meets Mable Winter, who has plenty of secrets of her own to hide. Yet Effie has grossly miscalculated, and her rescue mission quickly sets in motion a series of fateful events that imperil her life. The bleak lives of women in early-20th-century New York spring to life through Burdick’s (Girl in the Afternoon, 2016) deft sketching. Whether born to privilege, as the Tildon girls are, or tossed into the tenement slums, as Mable is, each girl must fight bitterly for any kind of freedom. As for the House of Mercy itself, Burdick shrewdly lets it loom in the background for a bit before pulling it to the foreground, like an urban legend suddenly brought to life. Burdick is especially adept at slowly revealing the motivation of the ominous figures around Effie and Mable while ratcheting up both the girls’ vulnerability and courage.

A spellbinding thriller for fans of Gilded Age fiction.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7783-0873-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Park Row Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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This quirky, complex, and frustrating heroine will win hearts and challenge assumptions about family dysfunction and mental...

WITHOUT MERIT

With the help of unusual houseguests, a teenage girl who tries to rebel by airing her family’s dirty laundry cleans up her act instead.

To Merit Voss, the white picket fence around her house is the only thing normal about the family it contains. She lives in a converted church with her father, stepmother, and siblings, and although her parents have been divorced for years, her mother still lives in the basement, struggling with social anxiety. No one in her family is religious, so her brother Utah updates the church marquee every day with fun facts instead of Bible verses. Merit is less accomplished than her identical twin sister, Honor, so she likes to buy used trophies to celebrate her failures. But Honor seems to have a fetish for terminally ill boys, so it’s a surprise to Merit when Sagan, who is perfectly healthy, kisses Merit after mistaking her for her sister—and then reveals that he’s living in their house. Soon they have another houseguest, Luck, whose connection to the family makes Merit even more convinced she’s living in a madhouse. So why is everyone so angry at her? Merit has a love/hate relationship with her sister. She's conflicted by her feelings for Sagan, who leaves intriguing sketches (illustrated by Adams) around the house for her to decipher. She’s simultaneously intrigued and repulsed by Luck, who annoys her with his questions but is also her confidant. She can’t sit through dinner without starting a fight; she’s been skipping school for days; and when she decides to give her whole family the silent treatment, Sagan is the only one who notices. In fact, he and Luck are the only people in the house who recognize Merit’s quirks for what they really are—cries for help. And when Merit takes drastic measures to be heard, the fallout is both worse and much better than she feared. Hoover (It Ends With Us, 2016, etc.) does an excellent job of revealing the subtle differences between healthy teenage rebellion and clinical depression, and Merit’s aha moment is worthy of every trophy in her collection.

This quirky, complex, and frustrating heroine will win hearts and challenge assumptions about family dysfunction and mental illness in a life-affirming story that redefines what’s normal.

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7062-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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