YA-- A woman and her daughters are virtual prisoners in their isolated home; their abusive husband and father uses the excuse that he is protecting them from evil in the outside world. This is a story of lives spent in waiting: waiting with dread for the man's return, waiting for a chance to escape, waiting for their lives to be over and their ordeal to end. The gentle narrative format belies the book's brutal nature. The mother's suicide sets in motion a chain of events that destroys any chance for happiness for the rest of the family. The incestuous relationship that develops between father and daughter leads to the birth of a monstrously deformed child who ends up being held prisoner in the cellar. Included are some violent sexual overtones. In terms of literary style, this is a cut above Stephen King and V. C. Andrews. It's also a darker tale because it's so firmly based in reality. --Carolyn Koehler, Richard Byrd Library, Fairfax County, VA
Glaister's first novel is a macabre tale of a family devastated by a father's anger, jealousy, and perversion. It is told by Millie, now an old woman, who lives with her elder sister Agatha, whom she hates, and their two retarded twin sisters. They live in an old, dilapidated house in the midst of filth and squalor. It is a stormy night and Millie, unable to sleep, goes back in memory to the events from their childhood that eventually brought the four sisters to this pass. The result is at times very touching and sad, as innocent youth is juxtaposed with ruined age. Still, though Glaister's prose is attractive and economical, the novel is spoiled by an excess of grisly events that strain the reader's credulity. And the reconciliation of Millie and Agatha at the end, after a lifetime of antagonism, is phony.-- Bryan Aubrey, Fairfield, Ia.
``You live a simple life here away from corruption,'' an abusive father tells his four motherless daughters in this eerily tragic and mesmerizing first novel. ``I cannot risk you becoming corrupted.'' Virtually imprisoned in their rural house even after their father's death, the four grow into a tormented old age. Milly, the narrator, recalls events from their youth and relates the decayed routines they follow after more than 60 years have elapsed, weaving an ever more nightmarish tale. Querulous older sister Aggie and younger twins Ellen and Esther (invariably called Ellenanesther because of their inseparability) have, like Milly, been scarred forever by the suicide of their warm and once-worldly mother, who, after years of being battered by her husband, drowned herself during the girls' childhood; by the cruelty of their father; and by their almost total isolation. A profusion of gothic elements--illegitimate conceptions; incest; concealed murder; a freak kept hidden in a cellar--is kept in place by Glaister's careful narrative structure and her empathy for Milly. (May)