Ruth and Nat are orphans, packed into a house full of abandoned children run by a religious fanatic. Read more...
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Publisher: Turtleback Books$26.90
More About Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha HuntOverviewA contemporary gothic from an author in the company of Kelly Link and Aimee Bender, Mr. Splitfoot tracks two women in two times as they march toward a mysterious reckoning.
Ruth and Nat are orphans, packed into a house full of abandoned children run by a religious fanatic. To entertain their siblings, they channel the dead. Decades later, Ruth's niece, Cora, finds herself accidentally pregnant. After years of absence, Aunt Ruth appears, mute and full of intention. She is on a mysterious mission, leading Cora on an odyssey across the entire state of New York on foot. Where is Ruth taking them? Where has she been? And who -- or what -- has she hidden in the woods at the end of the road? In an ingeniously structured dual narrative, two separate timelines move toward the same point of crisis. Their merging will upend and reinvent the whole. A subversive ghost story that is carefully plotted and elegantly constructed, Mr. Splitfoot will set your heart racing and your brain churning. Mysteries abound, criminals roam free, utopian communities show their age, the mundane world intrudes on the supernatural and vice versa. Making good on the extraordinary acclaim for her previous books, Samantha Hunt continues to be "dazzling" (Vanity Fair) and to deliver fiction that is "daring and delicious" (Chicago Tribune).
Publishers Weekly Reviews
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-10-12
- Reviewer: Staff
Hunts ethereal third novel (after Orange Prizefinalist The Invention of Everything Else) is a nod to the mid-19th-century legend of the Fox sisters, mediums who conjured up a devilish spirit they called Mr. Splitfoot in order to separate the gullible from their money. The book deftly straddles the slippery line between fantasy and reality in a story thats both gripping and wonderfully mystifying. Hailing from the Love of Christ! Foster Home, Farm, and Missiona halfway house filled with damaged souls and run by a conniving religious kookRuth and Nat occupy their turbulent adolescent years pretending they can talk to dead people. When they reach 18, the two latch on to a mysterious benefactor who convinces them to use their skill for cash. Decades later, a newly pregnant CoraRuths nieceawakens to find the long-absent Ruth standing by her bedside and is whisked off on a wild goose chase across New York. Where theyre going and why, the mute Ruth wont say. Hunts use of a split narrative to measuredly disclose snippets of Ruths past and Coras present in alternating, interconnected chapters builds suspense while keeping readers guessing about what crazy turn might happen next. Hints of whats in store for readers include a cult of Etherists, a noseless man, a pile of lost money, and a scar-like pattern of meteorite landings. This spellbinder is storytelling at its best. Agent: P.J. Mark, Janklow & Nesbit Associates. (Jan.)BookPage Reviews
All in the (spooky) details
It’s easy to dismiss “spoiler alert” people for obsessing over what’s in a story rather than caring about how that story is actually told. Then a book like Mr. Splitfoot comes along, and you realize that this is a case where the spooky details matter—not because of something as shallow as “spoilers,” but because you’ll want to savor every fiendish bit of this book. With her latest novel, Samantha Hunt has delivered a gothic tale that’s both deliciously creepy and emotionally satisfying, combining supernatural intrigue and thematic weight.
The novel opens with the story of Ruth and Nat, two orphans living in a kind of extremist cult who learned to channel the dead with the help of a con man and then discovered something dark. Years later, Ruth’s niece Cora becomes unexpectedly pregnant, and her Aunt Ruth appears to lead her on a mysterious journey across New York. Aunt Ruth’s life, and the purpose of her quest, are the stuff of deep, dark, luscious mystery, and this journey leads us to the heart of the novel and its gloomy secrets.
Hunt’s confidence in her story propels the book from page one, a task made all the more impressive when you consider the murky waters it traverses. Mr. Splitfoot is about the divide between the natural and the supernatural, between faith and reason, and in the hands of a storyteller like Hunt—an Orange Prize finalist and a winner of the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35” prize—the novel becomes something truly special. If you’re a lover of rule-breaking ghost stories, spoiler alert: Mr. Splitfoot is for you.