Such a Pretty Smile

A Novel

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Pub Date 18 Jan 2022 | Archive Date 01 Feb 2022

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Description

Best Horror Books by Library Journal * Publishers Weekly

“An outstanding story in outstanding hands.” - Josh Malerman

A biting novel from an electrifying new voice, Kristi DeMeester's Such a Pretty Smile is a heart-stopping tour-de-force about powerful women, angry men, and all the ways in which girls fight against the forces that try to silence them.

There’s something out there that’s killing. Known only as The Cur, he leaves no traces, save for the torn bodies of girls, on the verge of becoming women, who are known as trouble-makers; those who refuse to conform, to know their place. Girls who don’t know when to shut up.

2019: Thirteen-year-old Lila Sawyer has secrets she can’t share with anyone. Not the school psychologist she’s seeing. Not her father, who has a new wife, and a new baby. And not her mother—the infamous Caroline Sawyer, a unique artist whose eerie sculptures, made from bent twigs and crimped leaves, have made her a local celebrity. But soon Lila feels haunted from within, terrorized by a delicious evil that shows her how to find her voice—until she is punished for using it.

2004: Caroline Sawyer hears dogs everywhere. Snarling, barking, teeth snapping that no one else seems to notice. At first, she blames the phantom sounds on her insomnia and her acute stress in caring for her ailing father. But then the delusions begin to take shape—both in her waking hours, and in the violent, visceral sculptures she creates while in a trance-like state. Her fiancé is convinced she needs help. Her new psychiatrist waives her “problem” away with pills. But Caroline’s past is a dark cellar, filled with repressed memories and a lurking horror that the men around her can’t understand.

As past demons become a present threat, both Caroline and Lila must chase the source of this unrelenting, oppressive power to its malignant core. Brilliantly paced, unsettling to the bone, and unapologetically fierce, Such a Pretty Smile is a powerful allegory for what it can mean to be a woman, and an untamed rallying cry for anyone ever told to sit down, shut up, and smile pretty.

"Raw, beautiful, and haunting." - Camilla Sten

“A righteously angry fever dream.” - Paul Tremblay

“Brutal and shocking. - emily m. danforth

"Compulsive and horrifyingly entertaining." - Liz Nugent

“Darkly feminist.” - Karma Brown

“Razor-sharp. This one will cut you.” - Christopher Golden

Best Horror Books by Library Journal * Publishers Weekly

“An outstanding story in outstanding hands.” - Josh Malerman

A biting novel from an electrifying new voice, Kristi DeMeester's Such a Pretty...


Advance Praise

"Wonderfully well written; the dread, the enigma, build with each scene. It’s coming of age, it’s family secrets, it’s life in the balance, too. It’s Thomas Harris, it’s Lois Duncan… but no, it’s Kristi DeMeester, in complete confident control of your experience. An outstanding story in outstanding hands." –Josh Malerman New York Times bestselling author of Bird Box 

"With expert pacing and captivating characters, Kristi DeMeester’s SUCH A PRETTY SMILE is a gothic thriller that speaks to the strength of women. A darkly feminist and timely novel, I was spellbound until the final page." – Karma Brown, bestselling author of Recipe for a Perfect Wife

"Kristi DeMeester's novel is a menacing, mysterious, and righteously angry fever dream, one that hooks into you from page one. SUCH A PRETTY SMILE is unafraid to bare its feminist fangs." –Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts and Survivor Song

"I've never read anything quite like SUCH A PRETTY SMILE: at turns brutal and shocking, at turns lush and evocative, and deeply disquieting throughout. This novel unsettled me at nearly every turn of the page, and that feeling has stayed with me since I closed its cover days ago. Kristi DeMeester is a highly-original voice in horror and I can't wait to see what she writes next." -emily m. danforth

"A mother and daughter fight for their lives and their sanity in Kristi DeMeester’s SUCH A PRETTY SMILE, a quietly brutal feminist horror novel about what it means to be a ‘good girl’ in a world of men—and monsters. Thoughtful, creepy, and razor-sharp. This one will cut you.” —Christopher Golden, New York Times bestselling author of Ararat and Red Hands

"Kristi DeMeester is certainly an exciting new voice. Her exploration of toxic female friendships and her deep dive into the darkest parts of the human psyche made this a riveting, compulsive and horrifyingly entertaining read." - #1 international bestselling author Liz Nugent "Darkly visceral...will leave readers doubting reality as the uncanny merges with the real-world horrors of a young girl coming of age." Publishers Weekly

"Wonderfully well written; the dread, the enigma, build with each scene. It’s coming of age, it’s family secrets, it’s life in the balance, too. It’s Thomas Harris, it’s Lois Duncan… but...

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ISBN 9781250274212
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Average rating from 176 members


Featured Reviews

Date reviewed/posted: September 10, 2021 Publication date: November 9, 2021 Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review an advanced reader's copy of this book. This in no way affects my review, all opinions are my own. From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸. A biting novel from an electrifying new voice, Such a Pretty Smile is a heart-stopping tour-de-force about powerful women, angry men, and all the ways in which girls fight against the forces that try to silence them. There’s something out there that’s killing. Known only as The Cur, he leaves no traces, save for the torn bodies of girls, on the verge of becoming women, who are known as trouble-makers; those who refuse to conform, to know their place. Girls who don’t know when to shut up. 2019: Thirteen-year-old Lila Sawyer has secrets she can’t share with anyone. Not the school psychologist she’s seeing. Not her father, who has a new wife, and a new baby. And not her mother—the infamous Caroline Sawyer, a unique artist whose eerie sculptures, made from bent twigs and crimped leaves, have made her a local celebrity. But soon Lila feels haunted from within, terrorized by a delicious evil that shows her how to find her voice—until she is punished for using it. 2004: Caroline Sawyer hears dogs everywhere. Snarling, barking, teeth snapping that no one else seems to notice. At first, she blames the phantom sounds on her insomnia and her acute stress in caring for her ailing father. But then the delusions begin to take shape—both in her waking hours and in the violent, visceral sculptures she creates while in a trance-like state. Her fiancé is convinced she needs help. Her new psychiatrist waves her “problem” away with pills. But Caroline’s past is a dark cellar, filled with repressed memories and a lurking horror that the men around her can’t understand. As past demons become a present threat, both Caroline and Lila must chase the source of this unrelenting, oppressive power to its malignant core. Brilliantly paced, unsettling to the bone, and unapologetically fierce, Such a Pretty Smile is a powerful allegory for what it can mean to be a woman, and an untamed rallying cry for anyone ever told to sit down, shut up, and smile pretty. This is a very unsettling and eerie book - it disturbed me enough to have it affect my sleep as it kind of freaked me out. The characters are awesomely crafted and the story is a love letter to thriller fiction that had a nice political bent as I read about what the USA is doing to women with its abortion laws. I will recommend this book to friends, family, patrons, book clubs, and people reading books in the park as we do … I have had some of my best conversations about books down by the Thames! As always, I try to find a reason to not rate with stars as I simply adore emojis (outside of their incessant use by "🙏-ed Social Influencer Millennials/#BachelorNation survivors/Tik-Tok and YouTube Millionaires/snowflakes / literally-like-overusers etc. ") on Instagram and Twitter... Get a real job, people!) so let's give it ☕☕☕☕☕ - have a proper cup of tea and enjoy it!

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Feminist horror is a thing. This novel was an absolute page-turner, fast-paced and definitely thrilling but also so beautifully-written, with distinct 3-dimensional characters. It was emotional and meaningful and its feminism was rooted in realism - which was the true horror. This is the best book I have read all year. Thanks to Netgalley for the arc to review.

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St. Martin's Press how can I thank you in words for this wild ass, amazing reviewers copy?! Such a Pretty Smile by Kristi DeMeester has been high on my tbr list ever since I seen it on NetGalley!. And I prayed and hoped this book would be approved! The description here caught my attention like no other. The eerieness this book developed was phenomenal and had me gripped to the pages. Before I knew it, it was like 1 in the morning! Oppppssss got lost in the story! I don't think I've enjoyed a horror fiction like I did this one. The story itself was outstanding. Kristi is solid when it comes to things like pacing, character development, exposition, and narrative style. A climax most readers simply will not see coming this is a brilliant story! And I can't recommend it enough! A solid ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ for me! Special thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for sharing this amazing digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest thoughts. I will post to my platforms closer to pub date!

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