Two sisters raised in fear are about to find out why in a chilling novel of psychological suspense from the author of The Thinnest Air.
Ignorant of civilization and cautioned against its evils, nineteen-year-old Wren and her two sisters, Sage and Evie, were raised in off-the-grid isolation in a primitive cabin in upstate New York. When the youngest grows gravely ill, their mother leaves with the child to get help from a nearby town. And they never return. As months pass, hope vanishes. Supplies are low. Livestock are dying. A brutal winter is bearing down. Then comes the stranger. He claims to be looking for the girls’ mother, and he’s not leaving without them. To escape, Wren and her sister must break the rule they’ve grown up with: never go beyond the forest. Past the thicket of dread, they come upon a house on the other side of the pines. This is where Wren and Sage must confront something more chilling than the unknowable. They’ll discover what’s been hidden from them, what they’re running from, and the secrets that have left them in the dark their entire lives.
Full disclosure: I’m a huge Minka Kent fan. I read her first book The Memory Watcher in a day and found it completely exhilarating. I haven’t looked back since, whenever a new Minka Kent book is available, I jump on it, no questions asked. So naturally when I came across The Stillwater Girls on NetGalley, I didn’t ask questions either, I just hit that request button as fast as I could. Somehow Ms Kent always comes up with the best premise, neatly followed up with an smooth execution. As with all her previous books, I raced through The Stillwater Girls in mere hours. Part of that is the limited number of pages, only 250, but mostly it’s the writing style that makes it very easy to get sucked into the story, and the need to know what’s going on that keeps you turning the pages as fast as you can.
The Stillwater Girls is composed of two alternating storylines.
The first storyline is told by Wren, who’s one of the Stillwater Girls. Wren and her two younger sisters are raised in a remote cabin in the woods by their Mama. They have no electricity, no plumbing, they have no idea of what’s beyond the forest they call home. When the story starts, Wren and her sister Sage are left alone, because their youngest sister is sick and their Mama is taking her to the hospital. She won’t be gone long. Except that she doesn’t return and the girls are left to their own devices. Their food reserves dwindle, and when a larger-than-life man comes knocking, the girls don’t know what to do. What happened to the girls’ Mama and where is their youngest sister? I loved this storyline. The first few chapters felt very dystopian and very mysterious; and they reminded me of Into the Forest by Jean Hegland.
The second storyline is told by Nicolette, who lives with her husband Brant, a famous photographer, in upstate New York. Nicolette seems to have everything a woman could want: a handsome, successful husband who loves her, a lovely home, money, but she longs for a child and the relationship with her husband is souring. Nicolette suspects he’s hiding something and the more she digs for the truth, the more she distrusts her husband.
This is an intriguing, suspenseful thriller, but with a heart. Getting to the bottom of the girls’ history, finding out what happened to their sister and their Mama, and uncovering Brant’s secrets made for exhilarating reading. With The Stillwater Girls, Minka Kent once again hits that sweet spot only an excellent thriller can reach! Highly recommended.
Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the free e-copy. All opinions are my own and I was not paid to give them.