Short Take: The Evening Spider – Emily Arsenault

Arsenault writes psychological suspense and this novel has its origins in a real-life murder in late 19th century Western Massachusetts. It’s a multi-perspective narrative involving two young mothers separated by 125 years and an obsession that may well lead to madness for each of them. The PS section of the book will include details on the real-life case of Mary Stannard and the Northampton Lunatic Hospital. A nice bonus for book clubs!

Arsenault deftly shifts among three perspectives in this exquisitely creepy blend of historical true crime and modern ghost story: the conversational confession of Frances Barnett, a young mother, to her brother from a lunatic asylum in Northampton, Mass., in 1885; Frances’s diary, full of obsession with the bloody details of a popular murder case and increasing mental instability as she tries to care for a baby alone and without support; and the increasingly fearful viewpoint of Abby Olson Bernacki, who’s living in the Barnett house in Haverton, Conn., in 2014….Arsenault’s gift for letting readers feel the characters’ anguish from the inside while showing their irrational strangeness from the outside makes for terror that sticks.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“[A] good old-fashioned gothic novel with a modern twist; a tale of dusty old journals, creaky houses, and ghostly whispers that also addresses real issues such as survivor guilt and postpartum depression. Still, Arsenault never strays from the task at hand, which is to keep you up all night with a light burning until you reach the surprising end.”
—Melanie Benjamin, author of The Aviator’s Wife

The Evening Spider (9780062379313) by Emily Arsenault. $15.99 trade paper original. 1/26/16 on sale.


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