cover image Motherthing


Ainslie Hogarth. Vintage, $17 (288p) ISBN 978-0-593-46702-2

Hogarth (The Boy Meets Girl Massacre (Annotated)) turns the tale of a haunting on its head in a masterfully crafted horror novel that’s by turns humorous and deeply unsettling. It opens as Abby Lamb and her husband, Ralph, return from the hospital after Ralph’s mother, Laura, died by suicide. For Abby, Laura’s demise is liberating; she never got along with her mother-in-law, whom she and Ralph moved in with years earlier, and Laura’s departure from their lives means they can finally start the family they’ve dreamed of. But Laura’s lingering influence assumes a tangible presence that thwarts her recovery efforts. As Ralph slips into a depressive funk under Laura’s ghost’s tight maternal grip, Abby grows increasingly desperate to exorcise Laura from their lives. Abby makes a wonderful narrator; full of wry insights and frothy humor, she fully engages reader sympathies—until revelations about her childhood with her own mother suggest that she may be projecting her troubled emotions onto others. This dark domestic drama packs a punch. Agent: Rach Crawford, Wolf Literary. (Oct.)