The American dream shades into nightmare in this haunting fantasia. Michael Benson seems to have it all: a fine house in the gated exurban community of Brandewoode, ringed by meadow and forest; a rich, beautiful wife, Brenda; and an interesting job as a computer security consultant. But small disruptions gradually undermine his confidence in his world. At work, he plays cat-and-mouse with a hacker who leaves taunting messages for him in pillaged databases, while an ominous strategic planning initiative roils his company. At home, his trash cans suffer violent maraudings. His relationship with Brenda grows friendlier but more distant. But what troubles him most is an almost-imperceptible shift in the way things feel and look, a subtle unreality he perceives in familiar surroundings, the Chiaroscuro vegetation, a porch door that fits so tightly against its frame, it looks not like an actual entrance but like a painting of one. Further anomalies and surreptitious incursions into his house, Brenda's mysterious absences, an unexplained police lockdown of the neighborhood, a plague of snakes heighten Michael's unease, while a strange girl who lives in the woods seems to offer a refuge from an increasingly sinister Brandewoode. Froese (The Hour of Blue, 1990, etc.) builds up a layered sense of tension and dread, leavened with a touch of magical realism - the sort of thing Kafka might have come up with had he written about affluent IT professionals. His limpid prose, with its painterly feel for atmosphere, marvelously evokes a semirural landscape that's gorgeous, tranquil and yet full of inchoate menace, the land rolling away in all directions like an ocean whose violence is, for the moment, frozen. Simultaneously familiar and eerie, soothing and disorienting, Michael's world is a placid facade covering an unsettling fairy tale. A darkly compelling vision of the strangeness of everyday life. --Kirkus Discoveries
About the Author
Robert Froese lives on Flat Bay in the solar-powered home he and his wife, Leonore Hildebrandt, built themselves. He teaches creative writing and film at the University of Maine at Machias and spends some of his spare time tending apple trees. Robert has published three previous novels---The Hour of Blue (1990), The Forgotten Condition of Things (2001), and A Dark Music (2006). He has also written several screenplays, including adaptations of some of his novels.