cover image Nightmare of a Trip

Nightmare of a Trip

Maureen Kilmer. Putnam, $19 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-0-593-71859-9

An eerie encounter at the start of an ordinary suburban family’s summer road trip sets the stage for spooky shenanigans in this uneven supernatural comedy from Kilmer (Hex Education). Narrator Leigh Somerset is a 42-year-old mother of three embarking with her family on a drive from their Wisconsin home to the Magic Land amusement park in Florida when car trouble diverts them from the highway to the ruins of a burned-down house in rural Indiana. Leigh’s oldest daughter discovers that the house is referenced online in urban legends of hauntings and her son confesses that he took a locket buried on its grounds, both of which help to explain weird events that occur at the family’s every stop thereafter, including spirit manifestations, inexplicable earthquakes, and clocks mysteriously resetting themselves to 11:15. Kilmer’s account of the exasperating parental headaches Leigh and her husband endure trying to rein in their rambunctious kids is sure to elicit smiles, but the explanation for why their family has been targeted by this particular haunt is a long time coming, revealed in an ending that stretches credibility even as it tugs on the heartstrings. This is strictly for committed fans of supernatural lite. Agent: Holly Root, Root Literary. (Sept.)