Wicker Man meets Final Destination in Jennifer Thorne's atmospheric, unsettling folk horror novel about love, duty, and community.
On the idyllic island of Lute, every seventh summer, seven people die. No more, no less.
Lute and its inhabitants are blessed, year after year, with good weather, good health, and good fortune. They live a happy, superior life, untouched by the war that rages all around them. So it’s only fair that every seven years, on the day of the tithe, the island’s gift is honored.
Nina Treadway is new to The Day. A Florida girl by birth, she became a Lady through her marriage to Lord Treadway, whose family has long protected the island. Nina’s heard about The Day, of course. Heard about the horrific tragedies, the lives lost, but she doesn’t believe in it. It's all superstitious nonsense. Stories told to keep newcomers at bay and youngsters in line.
Then The Day begins. And it's a day of nightmares, of grief, of reckoning. But it is also a day of community. Of survival and strength. Of love, at its most pure and untamed. When The Day ends, Nina—and Lute—will never be the same.
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This understated folk horror tale, Thorne's adult debut (after the YA novel Night Music, written as Jenn Marie Thorne), follows Nina Treadway, an American expatriate on the remote British island of Lute, as she tries desperately to protect herself and her loved ones from the mortal terrors of "The Day." It's an event that recurs every seven years and is said to claim the lives of seven of Lute's inhabitants as tribute to the forces that keep the island safe and prosperous. Now, as the bodies pile up, Nina's marriage to Lord Hugh Treadway begins to break down, and she's forced to learn Lute's horrible history and race to outpace its curse—even as the phantoms of her own past resurface. This is slow-burning horror writ large, and the terror resides in Thorne's use of atmosphere to construct an overwhelming feeling of claustrophobia even after Nina begins to make sense of her situation. This slow, methodical approach to story crafting occasionally results in a sense of inertia, especially combined with Nina's relative lack of agency. Still, Thorne's subversion of folk horror tropes and focus on small, intimate beats make for a gripping reading experience recommended for fans of Midsommar and Jennie Melamed's Gather the Daughters.