Synopsis from Little Brown and Company:
If Shirley Jackson wrote The Shining, it might look like this “deliciously unsettling”* horror novel from the acclaimed author of Baby Teeth: A mother must protect her family from the unnatural forces threatening their new and improved life in a rural farmhouse.
The Bennett family — artist parents and two precocious children — are leaving their familiar urban surroundings for a new home in far upstate New York. They’re an hour from the nearest city, a mile from the nearest house, and everyone has their own room for the very first time. Shaw, the father, even gets his own painting studio, now that he and his wife Orla, a retired dancer, have agreed that it’s his turn to pursue his passion.
But none of the Bennetts expect what lies waiting in the lovely woods, where secrets run dark and deep. Orla must finally find a way to communicate with — not just resist — this unknown entity that is coming to her family, calling to them from the land, in the earth, beneath the trees … and in their minds.
About: Wonderland is a horror written by Zoje Stage. It will be published on 6/16/2020 by Mulholland Books, an imprint of Little Brown Books, 368 pages. The genres are mystery, thriller, horror, and fiction. I had an opportunity to host a blog tour for the author’s debut called Baby Teeth. According to the publisher’s website, “Mulholland Books is simple: to publish books you can’t stop reading. Whatever their form—crime novels, thrillers, police procedurals, spy stories, even supernatural suspense—the promise of a Mulholland Book is that you’ll read it leaning forward, hungry for the next word.” Please see below for more information about the author and publisher.
My Experience: I started reading Wonderland on 3/25/2020 and finished it on 3/29/2020. I always plow into a story without knowing anything about it but because I have read this author’s debut, I have a certain expectation and this story is different. Definitely interesting about small space living versus big space living. Orla’s family used to live in NY in their cramped apartment where they are always in each other’s face. Now they are living in the country in a big farmhouse with the kids sleeping in separate rooms, she worries that her family will grow apart. I like Orla’s heart to heart talks with her daughter. The words flow by fast to me but the story seems to slow with the narrator feeling regret for her move and her thinking a far range of explanations for unexplained happenings.
This book is told in the third person point of view following Orla, retired ballet dancer, as she and her husband Shaw, 38, their daughter Eleanor Queen, 9 and son Tycho, 4 are driving to rural Adirondacks, relocating away from New York city. The move was for Shaw’s benefit because he wanted to be with nature for his interest in painting. Despite Orla feeling anxiety about living out of nowhere, she kept it to herself and agreed to move to make her husband happy. Upon arrival, both her daughter and Orla were spooked. Soon the family started seeing things that weren’t there like aurora borealis. It might be hallucinations due to well water, the land being haunted, or something else.
Wonderland is a different read compared to the author’s debut. This book should be categorized as more of a paranormal or magical realism story instead of thriller. That ending, definitely not what I have expected, but I liked it. The read is creepy at times. I think if there was another view of the anonymous “It” then the story would go by faster or at least kept me hooked longer. I was getting tired of Orla’s view by chapter 28. Her reactions are realistic and in any given situations, anyone would react the same. One view just makes me feel the narrative is lengthy. I like the nature aspects of this book, though I’m a city girl and would never choose to live in a secluded place ever.
Pro: nature, creepy, family,
I rate it 4 stars!
About the Author:
Zoje Stage is a former filmmaker with a penchant for the dark and suspenseful. Her debut novel Baby Teeth was published in 2018. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. https://zojestage.blogspot.com and Twitter @zooshka (Photo obtained from the author’s website and info obtained from Little Brown‘s website).