cover image Such a Pretty Smile

Such a Pretty Smile

Kristi Demeester. St. Martin’s, $27.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-250-27421-2

Demeester (Beneath) blends realistic descriptions of dissociation and schizophrenia with the horror of a serial killer preying on young girls in this chilling probe into gender-based violence. In 2019, high schooler Lila Sawyer struggles with her attraction to her only friend; her increasingly strained relationship with her mother, Caroline; and the frightening news of young girls who were discovered dead and mutilated in the nearby woods. Demeester’s immersive descriptions suck readers into Lila’s inner turmoil as she starts seeing and hearing dogs that aren’t there and feels a dark presence awakening inside of her. Afraid that she’s inherited Caroline’s paranoid schizophrenia, Lila keeps these episodes secret while working to uncover what Caroline is hiding about a serial killer, known as The Cur, from years ago. Well-structured timeline shifts to 2004 depict Caroline’s sanity unravelling as she cares for her terminally ill father and manages her fiancé’s mounting envy of her artistic talent, while, in the present, Lila becomes enamored with the sense of power she feels when the darkness within speaks through her. Demeester’s darkly visceral imagery draws a fine line between mental illness and supernatural events that will leave readers doubting reality as the uncanny merges with the real-world horrors of a young girl coming of age. [em]Agent: Stefanie Lieberman, Janklow & Nesbit Assoc. (Jan.) [/em]