Ruth and Nat are orphans, packed into a house full of abandoned children run by a religious fanatic. Read more...
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).
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.