The new tenants have a terrible secret. So do the landlord and his daughter…
Ever since Lucy was two, she’s been on the run alongside her mother. She’s never understood the reason for a lifetime of paranoia, aliases, and lies. All she understands are the rules: never lock eyes with strangers, never let down your guard, and always be ready to move on.
Finally, after thirteen years and eleven states, their next hideaway seems perfect. An isolated, fortresslike place in the New Hampshire woods is the new home they share with its owner, a gentlemanly pianist, and his lonely daughter, Gretchen. She’s Lucy’s age and soon becomes Lucy’s first real friend.
But Gretchen and her father have secrets of their own—and an obsession with puzzles that draws Lucy into a terrifying new game of hide-and-seek. Lucy’s dark past is about to come calling. And this time, for her and her mother in the house on the hill, it might be too late to run.
Warning: supplemental reading containing spoilers. Click the links below to carry on!
— Death March Cult, as reported in updated American Cults, Truth and Lore
— Newspaper article about Paul Trapmore
— Carmel Camp Calitoga, rules for Bird Bingo treetop course
— Full poem, The Worst Part, excerpt in book
“…[A] brilliantly constructed novel…The pieces of the characters’ broken lives finally slip into place in a truly thrilling climax. Kirk draws the reader into a fascinating world of shifting truths whose details are by turns grotesque, funny, creepy, thoughtful, and exhilarating.”
—Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
“Gretchen is a very dark suspense/thriller…What you’ll find in this book are two interwoven tales, a mother and daughter on the run, full of secrets, and a father/daughter duo just trying to enjoy their ‘projects’…While the whole book moves well, the last half blazes a trail of ‘on the edge of your seat’ writing. Wow.”
—Ladies of Horror Fiction
—What Jess Reads
“Shannon Kirk is well on her way to establishing her very own brand—maybe her own genre. After last year’s In the Vines, Kirk returns with another unique blend of Gothic, Horror, and Mystery. It is not easy to come up with something that is completely different, but Shannon Kirk certainly manages to do that.”
—Crime Fiction Lover
“Gretchen terrified me, made me laugh, made my jaw hit the floor…I had to wonder what kind of sorceress Kirk is, to have wormed her way into my brain and then written exactly the kind of story that makes me jump out of my skin and burns its way into my memory. The best kind.”
—Emily Carpenter, bestselling author of Until the Day I Die
“Spine-tingling and deliciously creepy, Shannon Kirk’s Gretchen has a way of getting into your head, making you frantically turn the pages to find out what she’ll do next, and who she’ll let live. Even if you’re a master at expecting the unexpected, you might want to read with the lights on.”
—Hannah McKinnon, author of Sailing Lessons
“Shannon Kirk is known for her complex, layered portrayals of strong women of all ages, and her latest does not disappoint. Creepy, haunting, and beautifully told in Kirk’s signature lyrical prose, Gretchen is a blend of the best of thriller and horror. This is Kirk’s most masterful storytelling yet.”
—Jennifer Hillier, author of Jar of Hearts
“I’m so glad I read this during the daytime, when the sun was shining and I was in a plane full of people…Five terrifying stars.”
—Kimberly Belle, bestselling author of Three Days Missing and Dear Wife