A darkly funny, frightening novel about a young woman learning how to take what she wants from a witch who may be too good to be true, from the author of The Return.
All her life, Annie has played it nice and safe. After being unceremoniously dumped by her longtime boyfriend, Annie seeks a fresh start. She accepts a teaching position that moves her from Manhattan to a small village upstate. She’s stunned by how perfect and picturesque the town is. The people are all friendly and warm. Her new apartment is dreamy too, minus the oddly persistent spider infestation.
Then Annie meets Sophie. Beautiful, charming, magnetic Sophie, who takes a special interest in Annie, who wants to be her friend. More importantly, she wants Annie to stop apologizing and start living for herself. That’s how Sophie lives. Annie can’t help but gravitate toward the self-possessed Sophie, wanting to spend more and more time with her, despite the fact that the rest of the townsfolk seem…a little afraid of her. And like, okay. There are some things. Sophie’s appearance is uncanny and ageless, her mansion in the middle of the woods feels a little unearthly, and she does seem to wield a certain power…but she couldn’t be…could she?
Ghosts, witches, and romantic despair anchor this cheerfully ominous witch-lit contemporary as a small-town high school teacher becomes embroiled in an unsettling friendship. Self-sabotaging, heavy-drinking Annie Crane is disenchanted with life in New York City and fed up with being "just friends" with her ex-boyfriend while wildly grieving their breakup. When she moves upstate to picturesque Rowan for a job at the high school, she's bowled over by her gorgeous neighbor, Sophie, who easily befriends her despite terrifying everyone else in town. The women fall into codependency, but while Annie loves feeling wanted, she soon learns that her new best friend is a witch, complete with a haunted home, controlling ideas about Annie's relationships, and powers that turn violent when Annie pulls away. As Annie finds her spine, she realizes she has a few powers of her own and they might help her to build the life she actually wants. Harrison (The Return) ably executes this breezy tale, but Annie's harsh self-deprecation and rejection sensitivity drain some of its joy as it ducks all its own questions. Readers will need a taste for black humor to stomach the deep pain hiding behind the sarcastic narration, and even then, this ode to choosing the weirder life ultimately delivers less empowerment than revenge fantasy.