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Fifteen-year-old Matt Moore seems to have it all: a loving mother, a caring stepfather, a host of friends, and a growing relationship with the most beautiful girl in school. All signs point to a bright future, until fate intervenes.
After a sudden fire leaves Matt's senile and troubled grandmother homeless, she moves in with the family. Her ceaseless demands cause unrelieved tension - and with her comes a shameful secret about her daughters that traps Matt between a dead aunt who haunts him and his own mother, who seeks redemption for her sister's sins―and her own. Matt transforms from a gregarious teenager to a hostile loner prone to fits of rage―tortured by chilling memories and haunted by nightmares.
Then a shocking tragedy shatters the family beyond repair, propelling Matt's mother and grandmother into a final, explosive confrontation...a showdown in which old wounds will be viciously torn open―and a horrific shadow from the past will spring an implacable life of its own, clawing toward Matt with the ferocious inevitability of death itself.
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There's no such thing as a happy family in John Saul's dark imagination. He made this chillingly clear in Suffer the Children and The Right Hand of Evil, and he deepens this impression in Nightshade, a perfectly macabre tale of a household ripped apart by malevolent forces.
Meet New Hampshire couple Bill and Joan Hapgood and their teenage son, Matt. They have a huge home, many friends, and the glow of Matt's glory as a high school football star. Life couldn't be sweeter, right? Wrong!
Trouble begins when Joan's mother, Emily, accidentally burns down her own house and moves in with the Hapgoods. Matt is terrified of his foul-tempered grandmother, who refers to him as "Joan's bastard." Emily's odd behavior reaches a fever pitch when she insists that the bedroom of her long-dead (and much-favored) elder daughter, Cynthia, be recreated, prom dress, dolls, and all. The household's normal warmth vanishes, "the sense of welcome and comfort was gone." Matt complains of strange, perverted dreams in which the staggeringly beautiful Cynthia visits him, leaving behind the pungent scent of her Nightshade perfume. Joan also feels the presence of her dead sister, and has painful flashbacks to a childhood best left forgotten. A murder and three disappearances befall the small town, Matt spirals into depression, and Joan loses her mind. Throw in child abuse, torture, and a wickedly irritable ghost, and we have one whopper of a nightmare. Nightshade contains gobs of gore, melodramatic (and occasionally bumbling) prose, and a deviant, twisted ending--John Saul's famous recipe for family disaster and reader delight. --Naomi GesingerFrom the Inside Flap:
-old Matthew Moore seems to have a charmed life . . . until a mysterious fire forces his grandmother to move in with his family. The elderly woman insists on recreating the bedroom of Cynthia, her favored child who died tragically more than a decade ago. Soon Matt's life insidiously begins to change. At night he finds himself haunted by nightmares of unimaginable terror. In the morning the smell of Cynthia's perfume seems to linger in his room. While his grandmother drives a wedge between his once devoted parents, Matt transforms from a gregarious teenager to a hostile loner. Then a shocking tragedy shatters the family beyond repair--as a horrific shadow from the past takes on an implacable life of its own, clawing toward Matt with ferocious hunger. . . .
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