The Adults

Caroline Hulse. Random House, $26 (368p) ISBN 978-0-525-51174-8
Hulse’s stellar debut follows an ill-fated trip to a Christmas-themed resort in North Yorkshire, which friendly divorced couple Matt Cutler and Claire Petersen take together for the sake of their seven-year-old, Scarlett. Tension ensues when they elect to bring along their reluctant significant others. Since Matt and Claire split two years ago, Scarlett has relied on her imaginary friend, a rabbit named Posey, to express her negative feelings. Scarlett and Posey are convinced that Matt’s scientist girlfriend, Alex Mount, kills animals for fun, and their fear is compounded when they witness Alex put a wounded pheasant out of its misery. Scarlett gets along better with her competitive stepdad, Patrick Asher, though he’s so tightly wound and concerned about what others think that Claire can’t be herself around him. Patrick misses his own children, and is repulsed by Matt’s relaxed, happy-go-lucky nature, baffled about what Claire ever saw in him. As the trip progresses, he and Alex are both thrown by how well the exes get along and start to feel jealous. From the outset, readers learn that someone is shot during an archery session, and the circumstances of the incident unfold gradually and naturally. Hulse does an excellent job building her characters, consistently increasing tension by placing them in close quarters and letting their different personalities clash. This debut is the whole package­: realistic, flawed characters placed in an increasingly tense situation, resulting in a surprising, suspenseful novel. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/24/2018
Release date: 11/06/2018
Genre: Fiction
Library Binding - 589 pages - 978-1-4328-6214-5
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-0-525-51176-2
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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