The Darkness Surrounds Us

CamCat. Sept. 2023. 12:24 hrs. ISBN 9780744305715. $20.95. SUSPENSE
Returning to fiction, Lukasik (White Like Her: My Family’s Story of Race and Racial Passing) sets her latest novel on a remote island in Lake Michigan. Nellie Lester is fleeing Chicago amid the devastation of the 1918 influenza epidemic, so she takes a job on the island to care for a lumber baron’s wife and newborn child. The previous nurse quit and fled the island, or so it was thought, until her perfectly preserved body appears. Nellie’s move is not purely motivated by escaping influenza. Nellie’s earliest years were spent on this same island as a member of a doomsday cult; she is now hoping to find answers about her shadowed past. Rachel L. Jacobs has several AudioFile Earphones Awards to her credit, and her presentation here proves that she knows her way around a mystery. She perfectly captures the full range of unsettling gothic tropes but seamlessly switches to a reassuring tone when Nellie’s ghostly mother enters the scene. Additionally, Jacobs provides well-rounded characterizations for the island’s residents and the lumber workers who complicate Nellie’s desperate search for answers.
VERDICT This atmospheric, evocatively narrated audio will captivate fans of gothic mysteries in the vein of Rhiannon Ward’s The Quickening.
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