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The Nesting (2020)

by C. J. Cooke

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Excellent mystery/suspense with a supernatural element. ( )
  amyghilton | Apr 7, 2021 |
The Nesting by C.J. Cooke is a 2020 HarperCollins publication.

Had potential, but missed the mark

Lexi Ellis, recovering from a suicide attempt, is desperate for work a place to live. She manages to steal another woman’s identity- now using the name, 'Sophie', and lands a plum job as a nanny for two girls named Gaia and Coco. The girls’ mother died tragically, and their father is determined to complete the home they had begun building before her death.

Despite her inexperience, Lexi quickly adjusts to her new job and forges a bond with the girls. Things begin to go awry when the girls claim to have seen a ‘Sad Lady’ and the other staff members may have begun to suspect Lexi is not who she claims to be.

This book should have been an easy win for me. Unfortunately, it fell flat. I did enjoy the Norwegian folklore, but the execution is quite poor, in my opinion. The story employs some wonderful Gothic plot devices, but the characters are dull and without enough depth or emotions to pull me toward them in any way- good or bad- not to mention the incredibly improbable situations, that even I couldn’t let slide.

Overall, the folklore is the saving grace for this one. Everything else about it was a letdown.

2 stars ( )
1 vote gpangel | Jan 15, 2021 |
Kicked off the new year with a pretty good book. Filled with dread, suspense and confusion, this is a spectacular gothic mystery not to be missed.
Lexi is barely scraping bottom, when the opportunity to be the au-pair for two little girls in Norway springs up. Tom, the girls’ father, is recently widowed and building his late wife’s dream house near a fjord.
Lexi deceivingly snatches up the job and is prepared to start afresh in dreamy Norway looking after two girls whilst writing her novel.
Alas, nothing is as it seems and she finds herself busy beyond words. She is quite taken by the girls and finds herself falling in love with them as if they were her own, but... what is that presence she sometimes sees lurking around the house? Why did the girls’ mother kill herself? What is that sense of dread she gets when she is out with the girls near the woods? And is Tom really who he appears to be or is there something more sinister to him than meets the eye?
Absolutely loved this atmospheric little gem of a book. I never saw the ending coming and I am already purchasing the author’s previous novels. Super recommend. ( )
  AleAleta | Jan 13, 2021 |
After a break-up with her boyfriend and finding herself homeless Lexi finds her perfect getaway - nannying for a family who have lost their mother, and a father desperate to finish building their perfect home. But not all is as Lexi expected, there's something evil lurking, wanting to destroy it all.
Perfectly chilling Nordic Thriller. I couldn't get enough.

Cooke's writing keeps you hooked from the very beginning and the characters were very well written and even when I wasn't reading The Nestling it's all I could think about...getting back to picking up this brilliant book. Definitely 5/5 stars worthy. ( )
  Bookworm842 | Oct 5, 2020 |
The Nesting by CJ Cooke is a gothic noir novel that draws on elements of Nordic folklore and Scandinavian mystery traditions. The book also pays homage to Rebecca and Jane Eyre, with many allusions obviously made toward those estimable works. Unfortunately, The Nesting is a bit of an over-ambitious mess, with some serious flaws that detract from what might have been an interesting blend of conceits. Lexi is a troubled young woman whose recent job loss, relationship breakup and subsequent suicide attempt has left her looking for a new home and direction for her life. Aimlessly riding in circles, she overhears a woman on a train talking about turning down a lucrative job opportunity as a nanny. Lexi can hardly believe her luck when the woman asks her to look after her computer for a moment, and she sees this as a sign that she was meant to seize an opportunity. Lexi decides that she will impersonate the qualified candidate by stealing her personal information. The job includes looking after two young girls on a trip to Norway with their father, an architect who has recently lost his wife. Incredibly, Lexi manages to convince her new employers that she is a certified nurse with years of experience, an expert in the Montessori Method and a vegan chef, to boot. Assuming the persona of “Sophie Hallerton,” she accompanies the family to a temporary home bordering a fjord and deep in the wilderness. Even though the matriarch had presumably died of suicide, strange occurrences and a secret diary makes Lexi suspect that the death was no accident. The novel then throws so many things into the mix that the reader is left lost wondering if this is a ghost story, a monster tale, a murder mystery, the hallucinations of a mentally unstable protagonist, or nature’s revenge run amok. Such unresolved ambiguity would be problematic on its own, but the book also suffers from several dropped plot points and a distinct lack of logic in terms of character, time and setting. Noises in the basement are mentioned to but never explained, the children are not depicted with age-appropriate attributes, and several characters survive circumstances that are not even slightly believable. The abundance of calamities that befall the characters becomes numbing and inevitable, even predictable. Some of the best parts of the book are the sporadic folk tales that are abruptly sprinkled in. Cooke attempts to take an overabundance of ideas and incorporate them all into one story, and it just doesn’t hold together. The Nesting is ultimately disappointing with its lack of focus and failure to inspire real thrills despite its many sources of laudable inspiration.

Thanks to the author, HarperCollins and NetGalley for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review. ( )
  jnmegan | Sep 15, 2020 |
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Aurelia sprints through the dark forest, her white nightdress billowing like a cloud, her strides long and swift across the carpet of bark and brambles.
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