A twisty and propulsive read, this dark psychological thriller of sibling rivalry, love, betrayal, and the dire consequences of family fallout brilliantly plays on our fears of loneliness and abandonment, harkening to the modern gothic bestsellers by Ruth Ware and Liz Nugent.
Is a story ever just a story?
Mac, a retired academic and writer, is working on a new collection of folktales, inspired by local legends, and at the insistence of her only child, Arthur, she hires a young assistant, Lucie, to live in a cottage on her property and help her transcribe them. What Arthur doesn’t know is that his mother is determined to keep the secrets of her past from ever being discovered. And what Mac doesn’t know is that Lucie has a few complicated secrets of her own.
The creaking presence of an ancient water mill next to Mac’s property that used to grind wheat into flour serves as an eerie counterpoint for these two women as they circle warily around each other, haunted by the local legend of two long-dead sisters, ready to point accusing fingers from the pages of history.
This atmospheric page turner evocatively gives voice to the question: What happens when you fall in love with the wrong person?
British author Ireland makes her U.S. debut with this chilling psychological thriller set in the Scottish town of Fettermore. In need of a girl Friday, retired folklore professor Margarita "Mac" Muir hires a young woman named Lucie, who has been kicked out of her mother's house, to type the longhand notes for Mac's new book, Fire, Sleet and Candlelight, a collection of fictionalized local legends. While Mac and Lucie work well together, it's clear that both women are hiding parts of their past. Lucie's secrets begin to catch up with her when her sister's boyfriend, who caused her to be kicked out of her home, makes a surprise visit. Meanwhile, Mac dives deeper into a folk legend about two sisters in a nearby castle and the man who comes to court them. Soon, the lines between fiction, history, and reality begin to blur. The hypnotic narration shifts between Lucie and Mac, who both tell different sides of the same ancient story. Fans of contemporary gothic tales will find much to like.