When Jess and Clare Martin move from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to their former college town in the Hudson River valley, they are hoping for rejuvenation—of their marriage, their savings, and Jess’s writing career.
They take a caretaker’s job at Riven House, a crumbling estate and the home of their old college writing professor. While Clare once had dreams of being a writer, those plans fell by the wayside when Jess made a big, splashy literary debut in their twenties. It’s been years, now, since his first novel. The advance has long been spent. Clare’s hope is that the pastoral beauty and nostalgia of the Hudson Valley will offer some inspiration.
But their new life isn’t all quaint town libraries and fragrant apple orchards. There is a haunting pall that hangs over Riven House like a funeral veil. Something is just not right. Soon, Clare begins to hear babies crying at night, see strange figures in fog at the edge of their property. Diving into the history of the area, she realizes that Riven House has a dark and anguished past. And whatever this thing is—this menacing force that destroys the inhabitants of the estate—it seems to be after Clare next…
Clare had grown up in the town, on the old Jackson farm with her adopted parents, who were harsh and strict. She felt isolated and that perspective shaded everything back then. Now she is looking at the world with fresh eyes.
But when events take off at the estate, and when she overhears Jess talking on the phone to mysterious individuals, her paranoia intensifies and she is back there, on the outside looking in.
I really hated Jess from the beginning. He was charming, but then cruel. He criticized Clare and made her feel crazy. So when some strange things happened, it started to feel as though he wanted her to unravel.
Final revelations came one after the other, and most I didn’t see coming, even though nothing Jess did would have surprised me at this point.
A riveting tale in which nothing is as it seems, I was glued to the pages, reading long past a reasonable hour. 5 stars.