by Zoje Stage
St. Martin’s Press, 2018. 304 pages, General Fiction
Hanna, at 7 years old, doesn’t speak. She barks and menaces others, can’t go to school because she terrorizes other students, and has now begun to turn her wrathful attention to her mother. A master manipulator, she hides her true colors from her father, and attempts to drive a wedge between her parents so that her ultimate plot, to remove her mother from the picture and have all of her father’s love for herself, grows darker and more diabolical.
A suspenseful and disturbing tale of mother versus daughter, this book is not for everyone, but is a page turner for those who like an unpredictable and psychologically chilling romp. It deftly weaves the perspective between Hanna’s view and her mother’s, propelling the story forward around each twist and turn. The author differentiated the character’s voices in the book in a unique way, and though child-like, it was clear that Hanna’s threat was real and imminent. Both Hannah and her mother are sympathetic characters, even though Hannah is clearly disturbed, you can't help but feel the pain and confusion she expresses. I don’t know what stories of demonic or maniacal children say about our culture, but this one was a well written and entertaining stretch of the imagination.