cover image In the Vines

In the Vines

Shannon Kirk. Thomas & Mercer, $24.95 (320p) ISBN 978-1-50390-194-0

Kirk follows her well-received debut, 2015’s Method 15/33, with a claustrophobic tale of fractured relationships within a wealthy family with Mayflower roots. Sharing principal narrative duties are 25-year-old Mary Olivia “Mop” Pentecost—still grieving for her mother, who drowned herself two years earlier—and Mop’s maternal aunt, Lynette Viola “Liv” Vandonbeer, who lives at the family estate in Rye, N.H. Kirk tacks back and forth between the present and the recent past with increasingly disturbing depictions of the emotionally volatile women. Aunty Liv announces, “It’s possible I am insane now,” and Mop, hiding in the basement of a burned guest cottage on the estate, declares: “I hear a woman who wishes to kill me... scraping and scratching, clawing and hacking.” Other melodramatic elements include a childhood rape, a clandestine affair that leads to disaster, a disfiguring accident, and a mysterious captive kept in the estate barn. This hyper-charged thriller swirls about endlessly, carrying the characters along like so much useless debris. It all gets tiresome fast. Agent: Kimberley Cameron, Kimberley Cameron & Assoc. (July)