Charles Frazier, the acclaimed author of Cold Mountain and Thirteen Moons, returns with a dazzling novel set in small-town North Carolina in the early 1960s.
With his brilliant portrait of Luce, a young woman who inherits her murdered sister’s troubled twins, Frazier has created his most memorable heroine.
Before the children, Luce was content with the reimbursements of the rich Appalachian landscape, choosing to live apart from the small community around her. But the coming of the children changes everything, cracking open her solitary life in difficult, hopeful, dangerous ways.
In a lean, tight narrative, Nightwoods resonates with the timelessness of a great work of art.
New York Times bestseller
Publishers Weekly bestseller
Praise for Nightwoods
“There are no traditional heroes or heroines here. The only real heroism is that of persistence, the stubbornness of showing up each day, particularly in the face of fear - not so much physical fear, but more often, internal, emotional fears - and moving forward through the fabric of the extreme clumsiness, fear, and longing that is the human condition. Blood is spilled often in 'Nightwoods' - sometimes just a little, other times quite a lot - and it soaks into the rich soil, cycling again and again, while each generation of newcomers to the pageant rise and rise again, a ceaseless crop of humanity, sometimes possessing a puzzling and admirable integrity of spirit, and other times, its equally-puzzling absence.”
—Rick Bass, The Boston Globe
“A gorgeously written thriller, as brutal and unflinching yet tender and merciful as nature itself.”
“Nightwoods is unsettling stuff, tense and eerie and brutal. . . .Nightwoods is no typical thriller. It hits hard because you come to care so much about the characters, all of them drawn with that precise enchanted prose. By the book’s climactic scenes in the shadowy mountain forest that gives Nightwoods its title, the unhurried, poetic suspense is both difficult to bear and impossible to shake.”
“Wonderful . . . There’s a dreamy spell set in motion by Frazier’s devotion to his native Appalachians. To read this book is to disappear deep into a meticulously created landscape.”
—The Christian Science Monitor
"[T]his is a fantastic book: an Appalachian Gothic with a low-level fever that runs alternately warm and chilling. Frazier has left the 19th century and the picaresque form to produce a cleverly knitted thriller about a tough young woman in the 1960s who has given up on the people of her small town and gone to live alone in the woods. Much of the terror and pleasure of Nightwoods comes from detecting the ligaments that connect these wounded folks, who don’t always realize how they’re connected until a knife is already in flight.
—Ron Charles, The Washington Post
"Frazier’s exquisitely efficient style is matched by some finely tuned suspense. There is enough knife-play here to make Cormac McCarthy proud, though the violence never feels forced, emerging instead from the hardscrabble Carolina terrain."
—The Times (UK)
“This is no ordinary thriller. Then again, who needs another one of those? Frazier has taken a fast-paced genre and subverted it at every turn, offering a closer look at the nature of good and evil and how those forces ebb and flow over time.”
—The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“Nightwoods propels forward at a suspenseful clip. . . . It is Frazier’s verisimilitude of North Carolina backwoods and how this particular place shapes his characters and their footing in his imagined world that bring this story alive.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“A gritty new beauty of a novel . . . Its hero is a woman named Luce, and no woman could write a female character who rings any truer.”
—The Philadelphia Inquirer
“In every regard, Nightwoods is Frazier’s fiercest and darkest work. Nightwoods is so much shorter than Frazier’s previous novels not only because it’s tighter and more intimate...but also because some elemental force, an incarnation of death, perhaps, or simply silence, refuses to let it go on any longer than it does. The pressures not only within but somehow on the novel feel incredibly intense, like something malignant is crushing it down.”
“A bad end, but not a bad ending, is in store for at least one of the characters in this beguiling novel.”
—The Washington Times
“[Frazier's] great strength, as well as presenting us with a fully realized physical backdrop, is the tenderness with which he renders the relationships at the core of this book, creating a compelling meditation on violence and the possibility that human love can heal even the deepest wound.”
“There’s an almost rarefied atmosphere to this novel. Partly this is due to the double-helix hunt at the heart of the tale, cranking up the tension. And partly it is the delicate portrayal of the children’s tentative steps towards healing. The first word they utter is perfect without being sentimental. But mostly the breathless delight comes from Frazier’s poetic sensibility towards the brutality and beauty of nature.”
“The morally ambiguous postwar world Nightwoods inhabits is vividly drawn. Any film noir fan will recognise characters like Bud, Lily's no-good husband, and Lit, the brutalised veteran deputy with a fatal Benzedrine habit, and when they enter Luce's last-chance pastoral, we know no good can come of it.”
—The Guardian (UK)
"In recounting the slow, sometimes apprehensive circling of these characters around one another, Mr. Frazier displays a keen psychological understanding of their fears and desires, and their driving impulse to keep themselves safe, at any cost."
—The New York Times Book Review