As with the Huntsman in Snow White, themes of jealousy and love drive the plot: the Huntsman, stalking unsuspecting women; Max, willing to do whatever it takes to find his missing wife; Jolene, frantic for her ideal family life; Darby, hunting the Huntsman; and Linc, living on a farm that Sanders makes richly creepy, seeming to confess to crimes of his own. Sanders teases out the mysteries with an emphasis on suspense rather than serial-killer gore. Max’s narration is compelling, and the compassion he feels for his accidental friends proves affecting, but readers will likely have a sense of what shoe’s going to drop quite a while before it finally does. The final act, though, is gripping, and the novel is powered by fleet, sharp-edged scenes, memorable dialogue, and pared-down prose tinged with dark poetry.
The complexity of Max and Linc’s relationship elevates the mystery into something like a duel or even a suspenseful courtship, as Sanders challenges and rewards readers’ expectations—and empathy. The element of found family is unsettling, as is the detachment with which Linc prepares a rabbit stew—“Skinned, Fluffy has disappeared. It’s just meat”—and discusses coyotes’ zeal for blood. Such scenes pulse with nervy power.
Takeaway: The tense story of a desperate infiltration into the farm, life, and mind of a potential serial killer.
Great for fans of: Alaina Urquhart’s The Butcher and the Wren, Devashish Sardana’s The Girl in the Glass Case.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A