Sarah faces unbearable choices best left unspoiled. Suffice it to say, her early plunge into the Atlantic does not end her story, and after complications involving her “spirit” and the attentions of a mysterious and controlling figure named Max, Sarah is caught between living and death—and also between love interests, with taloned Max demanding a promise from her. Meanwhile, in this mortal realm, her heart yearns for Grant, a neighbor who is, in Sutila’s inimitable phrase, “jeans-commercial handsome.
Such striking language abounds in The Stealing. Readers will taste the salty sea air as Sarah strives to take control over her life—and Sutila layers on rich, convincing atmosphere and detail. The prose edges toward the dense at times, diminishing narrative momentum, but often achieving what fans of gothics want most from the genre: the chance to soak in powerfully evoked feeling. Sutila evinces a welcome revisionist spirit, affording Sarah 21st century agency while honoring the gothic tradition and the not-quite-enlightened 1980s, but what readers will remember most is the novel’s briny milieu.
Takeaway: An arresting modern gothic whose heroine gets caught between life and death, sea and land.
Great for fans of: Eve Bunting’s Forbidden, Caitlin Starling’s The Death of Jane Lawrence.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A