Lute by Jennifer Marie Thorne is a slow burn folk horror novel. I listened to the audiobook, which clocks in at nine and a half hours and is narrated by Victoria Blunt. We follow our main characters with a first-person point-of-view.
Every seven summers–on The Day–seven people die on the idyllic British island of Lute. Every seven summers, the island takes its tithe. The Treadway family helps to protect the island. Nina became Lady Treadway after marrying Lord Treadway, but she was originally born in America. She thinks The Day is just superstitious nonsense. But then it begins, and nobody who ever goes through it is ever the same.
This is the first horror novel I’ve read that I can describe as gentle horror, or slow-burn horror, or even minimalist horror. But I really dug the vibe and I’d love to read more books like this.
The narrator does a great job here. Her voice suited the character of Nina perfectly. I find it interesting that Blunt is a British actor using an American accent here, but in the book Nina describes herself as taking on some of the local lilt to her speech after living nearly seven years on the island, so that tracks for me.
I really enjoyed watching Nina grow as a character throughout this book. I also really liked the direction Lord Arthur Treadway takes in here as well. The community as a whole was lovely and I enjoyed getting to know everyone.
While this book is mostly character-driven, I listened to this book in large chunks because I really wanted to know what was going to happen next! The reader knows how many people are still to die so they go into each new scene with an “ok who’s next?”
I could take or leave the inclusion of this all being set in the near future during WWIII where America is on the opposite side of the war from the United Kingdom. It didn’t have much to do with the story itself and in my opinion was unnecessary.
I liked the epilogue, though I’ve seen that some other reviewers think it’s more of a cop-out.
If you liked stories like The Lottery by Shirley Jackson or the Final Destination movies, you might like this book! This is a great spooky vibes kind of book for Spooky Season.
Tropes: oblivious American, fish out of water, small town, ancient traditions, local superstitions
CW: attempted self-harm, firearms, death, murder, grief, parent death (mentioned), emotional abuse, child death
The publisher provided a audio ARC of this book for me to review. All opinions contained herein are my own.
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