The seven stories in this stellar collection from the prolific Oates (Give Me Your Heart) may prompt the reader to turn on all the lights or jump at imagined noises. In the excruciating title tale, a novella subtitled “A Love Story,” an adolescent girl leads two of her friends in the kidnapping of 11-year old Marissa Bantry to enact the ritual sacrifice of the Corn Maiden as performed by the Onigara Indians. Children or childhood traumas play significant roles in “Beersheba,” in which a man’s past catches up to him, and “Nobody Knows My Name,” in which the birth of a sibling turns nine-year-old Jessica’s world upside down. Twins figure in both the eerie “Fossil-Figures” and the harrowing “Death-Cup” with its sly allusions to Edgar Allan Poe’s “William Wilson.” In “A Hole in the Head,” a plastic surgeon succumbs to a patient’s request for an unusual operation with unexpected results. This volume burnishes Oates’s reputation as a master of psychological dread. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/12/2011 Release date: 11/01/2011 Genre: Fiction
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