Morgan is a disfigured recluse living in a large manor home with only a housekeeper, Engel, for company. Then the children begin to arrive on the grounds, their origins mysterious, and they are welcomed into the home. The family grows with more children, and the taking-in of a local doctor who cares for them all.
This all sounds like a pleasant and homey kind of story, from that description, but this is misleading. This book is strange. Surreal. Think “Children of the Corn” meets The Supernatural Enhancements. There are kids who don’t act like kids, wax statues that are too realistic, masks that may or may not be real, and the strange warping-the-air ripples that Morgan suspects is related to how the children arrive. Mixed in with this is the horror of Morgan’s childhood and disfiguring, the extreme isolation of the manor, and the bizarre visits from government agents that don’t exactly seem to align with modern-day agencies. In some ways, the book is a tale of family and trauma. In others, a dystopia. In others, something supernatural. There is mystery, and horror, and definite creepiness with a fairy tale edge. The GoodReads description says that the book defies genre, and I would have to agree.
I had no idea, when I began this, that this book would be perfect RIP-season material. The audio, read (wonderfully) by Todd Haberkorn, gave me chills all throughout. You know that delicious spine-creeping feeling of watching a doll in the background of a movie-room turn its head slowly toward an unsuspecting character? That. That’s what this book was all about. However, it wasn’t just a horror book, or something to read for thrills. There were deeper themes, with very real (if strange) characters, making it a lot meatier than I would normally expect from this kind of book. It was also completely spellbinding. I started the audio and didn’t put it down until I’d listened to the whole thing. It was so very good!
I highly recommend this one, though if you’re a RIP fan, I definitely suggest holding off until you start feeling those autumn winds coming on. I might just revisit it myself come September!