cover image This Might Hurt

This Might Hurt

Stephanie Wrobel. Berkley, $26 (336p) ISBN 978-0-593-10008-0

This outstanding psychological thriller from Wrobel (Darling Rose Gold) centers on two estranged sisters. Natalie Collins, an executive at a Boston branding agency, and Kit Collins, a receptionist at a Brooklyn accounting firm, are both wrestling with guilt, anger, fear, and the horrible “barnacle” of loneliness after their mother’s death. Each is keeping secrets from the other. Six months after Natalie last had any word from Kit, she suddenly receives an anonymous threatening email from the Wisewood Wellness & Therapy Center in Rockland, Maine. Kit has retreated there to “inward focus” through a self-improvement program to realize a “maximized self.” When Natalie races to the isolated island compound, she discovers a life-sucking cult guided by a guy his acolytes call the Teacher. Atmospheric details include the January wind that “shrieks like a woman being stabbed,” an abandoned schoolhouse in a forest, and a haunting initiation sequence. Some of Houdini’s mentalist feats play a significant role as the action builds to final bombshell revelations. Fans of Liane Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers will want to check this out. Agent: Madeleine Milburn, Madeleine Milburn Literary (U.K.). (Feb.)