From Ryan La Sala, the wildly popular author of Reverie, comes a twisted and tantalizing horror novel set amidst the bucolic splendor of a secluded summer retreat.
Mars has always been the lesser twin, the shadow to his sister Caroline's radiance. But when Caroline dies under horrific circumstances, Mars is propelled to learn all he can about his once-inseparable sister who'd grown tragically distant.
Mars's genderfluidity means he's often excluded from the traditions -- and expectations -- of his politically-connected family. This includes attendance at the prestigious Aspen Conservancy Summer Academy where his sister poured so much of her time. But with his grief still fresh, he insists on attending in her place.
What Mars finds is a bucolic fairytale not meant for him. Folksy charm and sun-drenched festivities camouflage old-fashioned gender roles and a toxic preparatory rigor. Mars seeks out his sister's old friends: a group of girls dubbed the Honeys, named for the beehives they maintain behind their cabin. They are beautiful and terrifying -- and Mars is certain they're connected to Caroline's death.
But the longer he stays at Aspen, the more the sweet mountain breezes give way to hints of decay. Mars’s memories begin to falter, bleached beneath the relentless summer sun. Something is hunting him in broad daylight, toying with his mind. If Mars can't find it soon, it will eat him alive.
Tantalizing and memorable, La Sala's (Be Dazzled) elite summer camp–set horror novel is a tribute to the healing and revolutionary power of solidarity. Seventeen-year-old white-cued, gender-fluid Mars Matthias has always been "eccentric" compared to their accomplished twin sister Caroline, especially in the eyes of their politically connected parents. To keep up appearances after Caroline's sudden death following a harrowing incident in which she seemingly tried to harm Mars, Mars's parents allege that she died from cancer, citing a sudden health decline preceding her death. But Mars suspects foul play. Taking Caroline's place at Aspen Summer Academy, a prestigious Catskills summer camp, Mars is determined to investigate. At Aspen, they're drawn to Caroline's beekeeping cabinmates, the Honeys: pale Mimi, "tall, tan" Sierra, and brown-skinned lesbian Bria. The Honeys provide Mars with a community, accepting them for who they are, despite Aspen's binary pressures. But the more secrets Mars uncovers, the more convinced they become that something at Aspen is responsible for Caroline's death. La Sala's slow plot reveal is gripping, and the narrative's lush prose crafts both deliciously creepy horror scenes and a nuanced, self-assured protagonist consumed by grief and longing for acceptance. Ages 14–up. Agent: Veronica Park, Fuse Literary.