book cover of The Comfort of Monsters
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The Comfort of Monsters

(2021)
A novel by

 
 
‘Every sentence is a delight in this taut and thrilling debut by Willa Richards.’ Elizabeth Wetmore, author of Valentine

‘Richards has flipped the usual narrative, centring not on the crime itself but on the loss that ripples from it.’ New York Times Book Review

A remarkable debut novel for fans of Mary Gaitskill and Gillian Flynn about two sisters – one who disappears and the other who is left to pick up the pieces.

In the summer of 1991, teen Dee McBride vanished in the city of Milwaukee. It was the summer the Journal Sentinel dubbed ‘the deadliest . . . in the history of Milwaukee.’ Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer’s heinous crimes dominated the headlines and the disappearance of one girl was easily overlooked.

2019, nearly thirty years later, Dee's sister, Peg, is still haunted by her disappearance. Desperate to find out what happened to her, the family hire a psychic and Peg is plunged back into the past. But Peg’s hazy recollections are far from easy to interpret and digging deep into her memory raises terrifying questions. How much trust can we place in our own recollections? How often are our memories altered by the very act of speaking them aloud? And what does it mean to bear witness in a world where even our own stories about what happened are inherently suspect?

A heartbreaking page-turner, Willa C. Richards’ debut novel is the story of a broken family looking for answers in the face of the unknown.


Genre: Literary Fiction

Praise for this book

"The Comfort of Monsters captivates with a cold case, and becomes an unflinching, unapologetic story of sexuality, victimhood, and the dangerous pull of memory. Richards exposes the underbelly of grief, shows the heartbeat shaking that thin skin, and leaves you, at novel’s end, holding something raw, fragile and essentially human. A remarkable debut." - Lydia Fitzpatrick

"In her fiery debut novel, Willa Richards folds the electrifying zing of crime fiction into an exceptional study of character. This book begs us to consider why we blame and otherize victims of violent crimes – especially when they come from society’s margins. Potent, gritty, and deeply comprehending, The Comfort of Monsters is written with a clear eye and an aching heart." - Amity Gaige

"The Comfort of Monsters is shadowed by crime but cares more about consequence--it pairs the pulse-quickening pleasures of a murder mystery with a probing portrait of loss. Willa C. Richards's unflinching debut picks apart a tangled knot of violence, shame, secrecy, lust, and fearsome love. A dark, elegiac examination of sisterhood that's impossible to forget." - Robin Wasserman

"On its face, The Comfort of Monsters is a riveting page-turner that begs to be read quickly, compulsively. But page by page, this electrifying debut by Willa Richards weaves an increasingly complicated and dark tale of guilt, fury, and the danger of building stories on that shakiest of foundations, memory. Every sentence is a delight in this taut and thrilling debut by Willa Richards." - Elizabeth Wetmore


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