Sam is doing some independent research, so she takes the opportunity to visit her mom Edith in North Carolina. She figures they will have time share some wine and enjoy their shared passion for British television murder mysteries. But when Sam arrives at home, the house has changed drastically. More importantly, her mom is acting strangely. She is on edge, and speaking to people who aren’t there.
It’s not just the home decor. Sam, a professional entomologist, notices that the backyard is completely devoid of insects. Somehow her mother’s specimen roses look perfect, despite the lack of bees or other pollinators. Then there are the vultures that lurk and watch the house. What is going on with their home? And what is wrong with Edith? Sam is determined to
When I arrived at the garden at the end of the lane, though, the thought of my mother briefly went out of my head. So did everything else. There were insects here. Gail’s garden was tucked into a clearing in the pie trees and it glowed with flowers. All kinds, not Gran Mae’s monotony of roses. I couldn’t tell you what most of them were, I’m no botanist, but they were swarming with hoverflies and solitary wasps and big hefty carpenter bees and at least two varieties of bumblebee — probably American and black-and-gold, although I’d need to get closer, Bombus wasn’t my speciality — and little iridescent sweat bees and skipper butterflies and all there other things that should have been in Mom’s backyard and weren’t. ~Pg. 92
All of these aspects of nature behaving badly combine in an odd and supernatural way. It’s a haunted house horror novel with Southern gothic tinges. There are uncanny elements throughout that all point to the key to the mystery. The end was satisfying in that it followed its own rules, even if it was a bit weird. Overall, it’s a fun read, and creatively different.
My thanks to Tor for the advance review copy.
Publisher: Tor Nightfire (March 28, 2023)
Hardcover: 256 pages