book cover of Just Stay Away
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Just Stay Away

A novel by

When a mysterious neighborhood boy befriends his young daughter, stay-at-home dad Craig considers him a godsend—until it becomes clear that there’s nothing angelic about him at all.

Craig Finnigan is determined to finish his book this summer, but being an aspiring writer while wrangling his seven-year-old daughter is not easy. So when Alice makes fast friends with a neighborhood boy, Levi, Craig is happy she has a distraction from her constant visits to his home office.

But that happiness soon turns to misgivings as Levi’s behavior evolves from that of a shy, odd boy into something far more disturbing. Strange noises in the middle of the night and things disappearing from their home could be explained away—maybe it’s the water heater, or maybe Craig simply misplaced his flash drive. Craig can’t explain his paranoia, but he feels sure Levi is behind it.

As Levi’s visits to their backyard become more and more frequent, Craig finds himself the unwilling participant in a game he never asked to play…and one he’s not sure he can win.

Genre: Horror

Praise for this book

"In Just Stay Away, Wirt flawlessly weaves tension into everyday domestic life. The protagonist, Craig, finds himself in a suspenseful game of cat and mouse with a neighborhood child that will leave you wondering, What would you do to protect those you love?" - Elle Grawl

"A relentlessly creepy and dangerously addictive read, Just Stay Away will have you checking your locks and jumping at shadows once you've finished. Using the unique perspective of a stay-at-home dad, Tony Wirt expertly crafts an atmosphere of ever-increasing isolation, claustrophobia, and gaslighting to ramp up from a sinister simmer into a full-blown nightmare. In doing so, Wirt explores gender roles, masculinity, and boyhood in the profound ways you find in the best of the genre. An absolute must-read - if you dare!" - Brianna Labuskes

"Cancel your plans and find a good chair because once you start Just Stay Away, you won't be able to stop. A psychological game of cat and mouse evolves between a writer and his daughter's creepy new friend in this superbly plotted, fantastically immersive domestic thriller. From the characters to the writing to the pitch-perfect ending, Wirt delivers on every level." - Mindy Mejia

"Nobody believes Craig when he insists nine-year-old Levi is the source of the mayhem in his life - which is regrettable, as Levi might be a troublemaker worse than Baby Teeth's Hanna (so says the author of Baby Teeth). Just Stay Away is a tense page-turner that literally had me reading with my shoulders hunched." - Zoje Stage

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