Off Limits. Mar. 2022. ISBN 9781737463344. pap. $13. HORROR
DEBUT On Easter Sunday in 1970, in rural Ohio, the local witch goes to her front porch; a dark, winged shadow passes over; and she collapses and dies. At that exact moment, twins Joy and Hope are born. What follows is the story of those twins, framed in four chapters, each one set on the days leading up to their birthday on the years it coincides with Easter. During each of those years, local youths are brutally murdered. The police chief finds a suspect every time, but the fact that it happens when the twins have a holiday birthday is not lost on anyone. Madden balances the mundane and supernatural perfectly with an intriguing frame propelling the pace and tension, while at the same time setting up a classic coming-of-age story with omniscient narration from Hope’s perspective, as the girls grow up from infancy to age 18. The chapters grow in length as Hope begins to put the chilling details of the town’s curse into place, leading a once deceptively quiet, atmospheric story to its terrifying conclusion.
VERDICT Utterly original, bubbling over with unease, featuring a shocking twist that breathes new life into a popular horror trope, this novel is, quite simply, breathtaking. For readers who enjoyed Slade House, by David Mitchell, The Rust Maidens, by Gwendolyn Kiste, or Fledgling, by Octavia Butler.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing