One of The Globe and Mail’s “Favourite Books of the Year”
The closer she gets to the truth, the faster it slips away.
In the spring of 1945, fifteen year-old Heike circles in the mountains high above Switzerland. Pushed out the door by a worried mother, Heike and her little sister, Lena, have escaped Dresden only days ahead of the firebombs that will destroy that city, to cross a war-torn Germany on their own. But now, Lena is lost and Heike is alone, stalked by a feral dog.
Eleven years later, Heike’s life looks very different: married to a prominent American psychiatrist, she’s living in idyllic upstate New York, where she’s free to wander the woods and care for her beloved four-year old son, Daniel. But despite the shiny veneer of this new life, Heike cannot shake the feeling that something is terribly wrong. On the sunniest day of the year, she’s relaxing by a pond with Daniel when a strange little girl appears out of nowhere—then eerily disappears below the surface of the water. From that moment on, nothing is ever the same again. Is the girl a ghost, or an omen of bad things to come? The closer Heike gets to the truth, the faster it slips away.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Gripping and disturbing, Hysteria is every parent’s worst nightmare and then some. It’s sometimes hard to keep reading but also impossible to step away from. When Heike Lerner’s son disappears, her psychiatrist husband is eerily unperturbed and resorts to gaslighting; he prescribes pills and calming elixirs when he deems his wife’s emotions too large. Like Heike, we’re left trying to work out what’s real, who’s involved, and what really happened. Elisabeth de Mariaffi has crafted a dark tale that’s brain-twisting and stomach-churning in the best of ways.