cover image In the Night Wood

In the Night Wood

Dale Bailey. HMH/Adams, $23 (224p) ISBN 978-1-328-49443-6

Bailey (The Subterranean Season) infuses his eighth novel with a sinister forboding that excellently villainizes its bucolic English setting. American couple Charles and Erin Hayden arrive at the estate of Victorian writer Caedmon Hollow to research Hollow’s reclusive and tragic life. Carrying the grief of their daughter Lissa’s death and their failing marriage, the Haydens throw themselves into their respective obsessions: for Charles, uncovering Hollow’s dark secrets, and for Erin, taking prescription pills and sketching their daughter’s likeness. Erin’s depression is her only character trait, rendering her two-dimensional in comparison to Charles. Apparitions of Lissa and a horned figure haunt the perimeter of the forest behind the house, recalling the story of a child sacrificed to the Horned King in the pages of Hollow’s “In the Night Wood.” With the discovery of a cipher and the help of a local historian who has a daughter uncannily similar to his own, Charles realizes the horrors of “In the Night Wood” are closer to fact than fiction. Bailey’s eerie prose centers readers firmly and successfully in his seductive and frightening night wood. Agent: Matt Bialer, Greenburger Associates. (Oct.)