Jul 202023

Publishers Weekly: Transporting readers to a blood-soaked Ireland, Sharpson (When the Sparrow Falls) delivers modern horror at its best. One stormy night in 1979, Etain comes across a faceless corpse on the road; days later, she’s found half dead near a burnt-out farmhouse, her shattered mind a blank. Then, one of her twin daughters disappears in 1989, and soon after, her husband is found dead in a suspected suicide. By 2003, the only person still looking for an explanation to this mysterious series of events is Etain’s surviving daughter, Ashling, a university drama student who’s just entering into a passionate love affair with a woman. Ashling’s convinced, however, that what she remembers of her sister’s disappearance can’t possibly be true: it involved a popular children’s TV show about a goat puppet that would only come out of his box if someone had been very bad. According to everyone else who watched the show, the box never actually opened—but Ashling remembers it differently, and the more she investigates, the more she comes to fear that what’s inside is no cuddly puppet, but something old, crafty, and hungry. Sharpson does a masterful job of weaving together the three timelines, handling each story with tremendous sensitivity and skill while supplying genuine scares. By turns tender and terrifying, sexy and stomach-turning, heartwarming and heartrending, this folklore-steeped exploration of generational trauma is a high-water mark for the Irish horror novel.