Author: Sarah Goodman
Narrator: Lauren Fortgang
Publication Date: 06 October 2020
Genre: YA – Historical Fiction/Fantasy/Thriller
Length: 9 hours 39 minutes/336 pages
Publisher: Macmillan Audio/TorTeen
MADNESS, SECRETS, AND LIES
Wheeler, Arkansas, 1907
When their father descends into madness after the death of their mother, Verity Pruitt and her little sister Lilah find themselves on an orphan train to rural Arkansas.
In Wheeler, eleven-year-old Lilah is quickly adopted, but seventeen-year-old Verity is not. Desperate to stay close to her sister, Verity indentures herself as a farmhand. But even charming farm boy Abel Atchley can’t completely distract her from the sense that something is not quite right in this little town. Strange local superstitions abound, especially about the eerie old well at the center of the forest. The woods play tricks, unleashing heavy fog and bone-chilling cold…and sometimes visions of things that aren’t there.
But for Verity, perhaps most unsettling of all is the revelation that her own parents have a scandalous history in this very town. And as she tries to unearth the past, sinister secrets come with it—secrets that someone will go to violent lengths to protect….
A haunting tale of long-buried secrets, small-town scandal, and single-minded vengeance by talented debut novelist Sarah Goodman.”
I started reading the physical copy of this one, but immediately switched to the audio when I found out it was narrated by Lauren Fortgang. She is on my list of go-to narrators, and the wait was worth it.
Set in the early 1900s in the small town of Wheeler, Arkansas, what should be a sleepy town is actually home to a haunting forest that harbors one heck of a dark secret.
Verity Pruitt and her sister quickly realize things aren’t as they seem in this new town. To make matters worse, Lilah is immediately adopted but Verity must indenture herself as a farmhand to stay nearby.
This debut is an atmospheric novel that sinks its teeth in from the prologue. The “otherness” of the town is palpable. I loved that this small town slowly reveals its secrets the more Verity refuses to back down and be a silent and obedient young lady.
While the mystery, supernatural elements, and small town life will definitely whet a lot of palates, this is a slow-burn so keep that in mind. There were definitely some points in the middle where we were wrapped up in the daily life of the small town, which slowed the momentum of the plot a bit. I also think that I was just dying to get to the supernatural elements.
The characters in this one are well crafted and each one has their own place in the story. I absolutely loved Verity. She refused to conform to the expectations of girls and women in society (even though this is early 1900s). I do always struggle with stories set in historic time periods because of the suffocating patriarchy, so to have Verity refuse to hold her tongue made me proud.
Overall, if you’re looking for a spine tingling read for spooky season, I think this one is definitely worth a read.
Thank you to Tor Teen and Macmillan Audio for my gifted copies. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.