Lexi Ellis has a troubled past but grabs an opportunity. She becomes Sophie Hallerton, nanny to the daughters of architect Tom Faraday on an isolated property in Norway. Far from an idyllic situation, there are things that can't be explained and the suspicion that Farraday's late wife didn't die by suicide after all.
This is one of the rare times the prologue actually works. Cooke's descriptions, metaphors, and inclusion of Norse folk tales add to the pleasure of the story. Tom is an annoying and perhaps inept architect, but his youngest daughter, Gaia is delightful. One appreciates how Lexi/Sophia grows through the story. She is strong; a survivor. When she commits acts traditionally thought of as "too stupid to live," it makes sense and is in keeping with her personality.
Cooke is very good at seeding doubt about the characters. While not a huge fan of unreliable characters, it works perfectly here. The story alternates between two time periods, but in a way that is clearly indicated and not at all confusing.
For those who enjoy a bit of paranormal mixed with suspense, this is very well done. Norse folktales, elk, spectral figures are a few of the bump-in-the-night elements. The story sends shivers up the spine without crossing into horror. Best of all, it serves a purpose to the plot.
There are inconsistencies and a questionable ending. There is quite a bit of foreshadowing, but it works. However, the twists, metaphors—"Grief is not a mere felling—it's an isotropic space.", pacing, characters, plot, concept and heart-pounding climax completely offset those issues. Her descriptions make both locations and emotions real.
The Nesting is far from the typical Scandinavian noir. It's a book one doesn't put down, and an author to be read again.
THE NESTING (Susp-Sophie-Norway-Contemp) – G+
Cooke, C.J. – Standalone
HarperCollins, Oct 2020