The Christmas Guest: A Novella (Hardcover)
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“Delicious…I defy you to stop reading The Christmas Guest once you begin.” — New York Times Book Review
New York Times bestselling author Peter Swanson pens a spectacularly spine-chilling novella in which an American art student in London is invited to join a classmate for the holidays at Starvewood Hall, her family’s Cotswold manor house. But behind the holly and pine boughs, secrets are about to unravel, revealing this seemingly charming English village’s grim history.
Ashley Smith, an American art student in London for her junior year, was planning on spending Christmas alone, but a last-minute invitation from fellow student Emma Chapman brings her to Starvewood Hall, country residence of the Chapman family. The Cotswold manor house, festooned in pine boughs and crammed with guests for Christmas week, is a dream come true for Ashley. She is mesmerized by the cozy, firelit house, the large family, and the charming village of Clevemoor, but also by Adam Chapman, Emma’s aloof and handsome brother.
But Adam is being investigated by the local police over the recent brutal slaying of a girl from the village, and there is a mysterious stranger who haunts the woodland path between Starvewood Hall and the local pub. Ashley begins to wonder what kind of story she is actually inhabiting. Is she in a grand romance? A gothic tale? Or has she wandered into something far more sinister and terrifying than she’d ever imagined?
Over thirty years later the events of that horrific week are revisited, along with a diary from that time. What began in a small English village in 1989 reaches its ghostly conclusion in modern-day New York, many Christmas seasons later.
About the Author
Peter Swanson is the New York Times bestselling author of The Kind Worth Killing, winner of the New England Society Book Award and finalist for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger; Her Every Fear, an NPR book of the year; and Eight Perfect Murders, a New York Times bestseller, among others. His books have been translated into 30 languages, and his stories, poetry, and features have appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, The Atlantic Monthly, Measure, The Guardian, The Strand Magazine, and Yankee Magazine. He lives on the North Shore of Massachusetts, where he is at work on his next novel.
“The book gets darker and more shocking as it goes along….The twist will make you rethink everything you’ve read before.” — New York Times Book Review
"A brief but potent book with the weight and wallop of a much longer one. It still affords Mr. Swanson enough space in which to work his characteristic trick of pulling the rug out from under a hapless audience. Here’s a hint for those who take up this book: Never mind unreliable narrators; beware the unreliable reader." — Wall Street Journal
“Swanson does more with less in this punchy thriller that packs all the potency of his longer works….[He] has plenty of knockout twists up his sleeve, but they never feel cheap, and he manages to build three-dimensional characters despite the brief page count. This is a perfect introduction to one of the cleverest talents in contemporary genre fiction.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"The Christmas Guest never ceases to amaze, and the huge time and plot jumps from one section of the novella to the other is handled brilliantly by Swanson. It will puzzle readers in the best of ways and will make them want to go back to the beginning and read this short, fascinating story all over again."
— Book Reporter
“Carefully crafted and featuring an eloquent blending of psychological and suspense in a Christmas backgrounded crime thriller of a read from start to finish.”
— Midwest Book Review
“Smart, surprising, cool and fun, with a deeply satisfying ending. I loved it!” — Gillian McAllister, New York Times bestselling author, on The Kind Worth Saving
"An expertly wielded icicle to the heart that packs a lot of menace into its 93 pages....The Christmas Guest isn’t just good for a novella; it might become a dark little yuletide classic." — AirMail