by Zoje Stage
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Pub Date 14 Jul 2020 | Archive Date 14 Aug 2020
**Notice New Pub Date**
If Shirley Jackson wrote The Shining, it might look like this "deliciously unsettling" horror novel of a mother who must protect her family from the unnatural forces threatening their life in a rural farmhouse (Layne Fargo, author of Temper).
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.
"Oh, fright fans rejoice. That sure hand you're looking for? That relentless climb, that crescendo of cold sweat? It's all here. Deep in the woods, under a lot of snow, steeped in mad, unfamiliar nature. Zoje Stage is in total control of your nightmare. For those who live to be scared, Wonderland is the book you'll be glad you cracked open at home, alone, at night." —Josh Malerman, New York Times bestselling author of Bird Box and Malorie
"Wonderland is part ghost story, part family drama, part psychological thriller. And beyond that, it is beautifully written. I was captivated through the entire story." —T. Greenwood, author of Keeping Lucy and Rust & Stardust
"Zoje Stage's Wonderland is a mesmerizing journey into the darkest realms of the supernatural; a family, escaping the perils of city life, discovers that the splendors of nature can mask a hidden face of savage, unnameable terror." —Kathleen Kent, author of The Burn
"Zoje Stage's foreboding sophomore novel combines the bone-chilling paranoia of The Shining with the uncanny suspense of Suspiria. Just as deliciously unsettling as her unforgettable debut, Wonderland is a must-read for horror and thriller fans." —Layne Fargo, author of Temper
"Zoje Stage plucks the strings of a mother's worst fears like none other through this wondrous adventure as it unravels into claustrophobic terror. Hauntingly beautiful and scary as hell, Wonderland takes you deep into the woods of one woman's mind and her harrowing struggle to save her children." —D.M. Pulley, author of The Dead Key and No One's Home
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 95 members
This is a slow burn that turns into a three alarm fire. I got caught up in the story to the point where I culd not sleep until I finished it. An awesome story!
Baby Teeth is one of the first books I picked up after I joined the horror and #writingcommunity on Twitter, and I've been a big fan of Stage since. So when I saw Wonderland available on NetGalley, I immediately requested it and was thrilled to be approved. I mean, look at that cover. Striking. I couldn't wait to dive in.
After retiring from a lifelong ballet career, Orla and her family move to a remote house in the Adirondacks so her husband, Shaw, can pursue his artistic ambitions and their children, Eleanor Queen and Tycho, can experience the rustic upbringing they've never had. But the house and land are far from what they imagined, and when they discover that something is lurking in the woods, they have to confront their fears head on.
Let me start by saying that I thoroughly enjoyed this book. There is a lot going on in spite of the quiet, introspective nature of the MC: relationship issues, motherhood issues, adjusting to a new lifestyle, difficult life transitions, childhood traumas, not to mention supernatural forces, a possibly malevolent being, and a house built in an area used for tuberculosis cure cottages.
Orla is an interesting character, and in her, I saw a lot of myself: balancing being a good mother and needing to find fulfillment in something other than motherhood, supporting her husband and questioning the depth of his dedication, and perhaps most of all, wariness of nature--this one, I feel, is more prevalent as the weather is getting nicer here, and I have to face my fear of bugs in order to play with my kids outside. I live in upstate NY and I'm no stranger to the ADKs, and Stage did an excellent job creating the eerie unbalance of moving from the city to the wilderness where the closest pizza shop is half an hour away.
I also chuckled at Orla's predicament on a pandemic level, as she adjusts to only being with her family for days on end, but such is life in quarantine. You take enjoyment where you can get it lol.
Without giving too much away, this book is quiet yet powerful and deeply unnerving. The silence itself becomes a character, as does nature, the house, and your own judgment of the situation. You are forced into the story, questioning Orla's choices, but at the same time, swimming in ambiguity of whether you would act differently if put in her shoes. As a parent, we think we listen to our children, but our engagement comes from a place where we think we know better. We're adults with complete cognitive abilities and a bigger frame of reference, so of course we do, but in Wonderland, none of that matters. There are higher powers, intangible thought processes, and a Whitman-esque mindset where one person contains multitudes.
I will say that if you're expecting a high-octane, edge-of-your-seat scarefest, this might not be the book for you. Reading this felt a little like watching The VVitch or Midsommar, where everything is deeply unsettling but you can't put your finger on why--until you can. There are a lot of unexplained answers and things happen because they do and can and you might not get that hard-locked closure (a fact I loved). Dozens of tiny horrific explosions, but their disasters are emotional wreckage and reflection instead of killer carnage. I loved Stage's exploration of mental fortitude and mother/child relationships.
Overall, Wonderland is an atmospheric, artistic nightmare you won't want to miss.
Big thanks to Mulholland Books and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for honest review consideration.
What a stunning sophomore book! Stage masterfully takes the reader through this chilling tale, hitting you hard in the gut as the dread and tension rises ever higher. I was nauseous, fearful, and loved every minute of it.
At first this seemed like an odd episode of House Hunters. Retired ballerina and wanna be painter buy a picturesque property in the Adirondacks. Then the creep factor started setting in. Snow, lots and lots of it, creepy trees and possible hallucinations. Definitely a book to read in winter by the fireside! Thank you so much for letting me read it!
First, my thanks to the author, the publishing house, and NetGalley for allowing me an electronic copy in exchange for an honest review.
Solid 4. Maybe slightly higher.
After a long string of psychological thrillers and domestic thrillers I picked up this book. Let me first say it's nothing like "BabyTeeth". I liked her first book a lot. (Little kids can be so creepy!)
This is nothing like that. But I really enjoyed it!
It was slightly paranormal, little bit of magical realism and a thread of a Greek tragedy. (No worries, mostly a happy ending) It was like a paranormal adult fairy tale of sorts. And unlike many books, this one stuck in my mind for awhile. Even after reading a few other books since then.
I love this new world of folk/cosmic horror that is becoming mainstream. First was Camilla Bruce's amazing You Let Me In, and Zoje Stage's Wonderland is equally as impressive.
Zoje Stage's debut, Baby Teeth, was extraordinary. I still think about it over two years after reading it.
The theme of children continue in Wonderland, with Orla, her husband Shaw, and their children, moving from the bright lights of New York City to a secluded house in the woods. Orla, a ballet dance, is retiring, and allowing her husband to follow his artistic dreams.
Who would have thought living in a literal cabin in the woods could go wrong?! From a creepy encounter with a huge tree, to freak weather patterns, it is clear that something has made this family a target. But until they figure out what that thing is, they can't stop it.
Wonderland is a rollercoaster. The chapter are pretty brief, but it felt like something nerve-wracking happened in every chapter. Things move very fast, and spiral into the realm of the supernatural at an alarming pace. I was genuinely terrified for this family.
I love Stage's writing style. Simple, but not condescendingly so, and she really knows how to drive a plot forward. Do not be mislead by the simplicity; this book gets incredibly dark. This is not a light-hearted read.
Recommended for fans of Stage's previous book, Stephen King, Graham Joyce's The Silent Land, and the aforementioned You Let Me In, by Camilla Bruce.
𝗪𝐨𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐥𝐚𝐧𝐝 by Zoje Stage thank you to mulholland books and netgalley for the e-arc ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
When Orla, Shaw and their two children, Eleanor Queen and Tycho (yes, these are their names), move from the city to a cabin in the wild Ernest, they are expecting an acclimation period. Things get difficult when they realize there’s something on the land with them, and they have no idea what it wants.
I have been highly anticipating this read, as loved her first book Baby Teeth. I was almost too nervous to start it because my expectations were so high. It was really good. It was creepy, but in a one with nature Wiccan type of way, which as a horror fan, I haven’t seen a lot of recently. It had a bit of a Shining feel to also, but with natural elements. This was a unique story that I think is fresh to the horror genre. I really enjoyed the maternal protagonist and her main intentions of keeping her children safe. My favorite part of this book, the ending. It has that type of ending where your left with a creepy feeling of not knowing if you should be content or terrified.
Wonderland comes out 7/14
I dived into the ARC of Wonderland knowing only that it was a scary book set in a cabin in the woods. It is so much more. Zoje Stage has created a deliberately paced page turner that Is dread inducing and harrowing. Wonderland is about a family who transports from New York City to the countryside of upper New York State. Almost as soon as they arrive, the mother, father and daughter become aware of a presence that can be felt all around them. The danger is in whether this entity is evil.
Stage used the setting, a house surrounded by acres of uninhabited, wooded land, as a way to increase the sense of dread felt by the family. They are surrounded by sounds and sights that they are unfamiliar with. What I loved most about Wonderland is the relationship between the family members. Orla, the mother, is at the center of the story. Out of all of them, she seems to feel the most grounded. I believed the choices she had to make, even if they are due to supernatural circumstances.
Some readers may not appreciate its open-endedness. I didn’t have an issue with it, but that may be because I needed it to end: I ran the gamut of emotions with Wonderland: fear, despair, hopelessness, and joy. I’m not sure I could take any more.
I received an ARC e-book copy of Wonderland from NetGalley and Mulholland Books in return for my honest review, which follows below. I thank both for this opportunity.
I rated this novel 5 stars.
I reached my decision by how much I enjoyed reading this, I intend on buying a copy when it is released. I’ve actually saved a space next to my copy of Baby Teeth since I heard this was coming out, and having been able to read the ARC has just cemented my need to own this book. I am recommending this to be read by anyone that liked her writing style with Baby Teeth, obviously, but also if they like tense family thrillers with a supernatural tint, well-written characters that you feel very invested in, and the resulting inability to rest until you know what happens. I can also see giving this as a gift.
I’ll admit after reading Baby Teeth I searched Zoje Stage’s name often, hoping for news of a new book. I had decided after one read she would join my ever growing list of authors I would buy whatever they wrote, cherishing their words as I re-read them over and over. I have a slight book problem, not a big deal, not looking for help right now, even if my husband silently wishes I would. When I saw the publication date was pushed back to the 14th of July, I was a little stoked, because that’s my birthday, and it felt a little like fate that I planned on buying it with that birthday bank.
Now on to a hopefully spoiler free review.
The book opens with a family moving on to the next stage of their life. The wife has retired and the husband will focus on giving his art career a go, while moving from the busy city to an out in the country home. It’s a total change for everyone, but one that they all seem eager to try. Almost immediately the mother feels out of sorts on the land, and you’re unsure if it is just regular jitters or mother’s intuition rearing its protective head.
At first I drew comparisons to The Shining by Stephen King, a family living in seclusion during winter while the father works on something important to him. But it doesn’t stick, the stories are not similar beyond that initial thought, and that is more than fine; this story is about a family that was never emotionally frayed or drawn from one another. This is a close and loving family, and I really appreciate how she writes from a mother’s perspective, how even if you are at that moment frustrated, you can also be full of love for your children, or your spouse.
It becomes plain that there are odd happenings on their property fairly quickly. The husband and daughter seem more sensitive to the things causing the oddities, the son is almost too young to realize what is going on, and the mother just strives for answers. There is a lot of pressure on the parents; having made this big change in their lives has not been cheap, but they are also concerned about their children's safety.
What follows is a story that stretches the sanity of everyone there; the more they learn almost seems to make things more confusing. There were no lulls in this book, just parts where you thought, maybe things aren’t so bad while the author is surely giggling behind you. I absolutely loved this book, every magical moment, tragic turn, and unexpected emotional yank to my insides. If you want to know what happens specifically, you will have to read it yourself, but you will not regret it.
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