Clever, beautiful—and hopelessly violent.
Meet Addie and Dorian, the sisters at the center of Barbara Barrow's debut novel The Quelling, coming to bookstores and online retailers September 25.
Addie and Dorian have always been together. They’re clever, beautiful—and hopelessly violent. Diagnosed with a rare psychiatric condition and accused of murder in childhood, the sisters have spent most of their lives in a locked ward under the supervision of eccentric researcher Dr. Lark. Now on the cusp of adulthood, Addie has a plan: start a new family, to replace the one she lost. Dorian struggles to quell her violent tendencies in time to help raise her sister’s child.
But Dr. Lark sees these patients as key to the completion of his revolutionary cure, and he will not allow Addie’s absurd ideas to get in the way. As his “treatments” become increasingly bizarre, they put Addie and Dorian’s safety at risk. The girls’ only lifeline may be Ellie, a ward nurse with troubles of her own, who’s never felt the need to protect anyone—until now.
"When I think of The Quelling in a visual way, as a series of images rather than words, I think immediately of imprisoned women, bristling with a kinetic animal rage, in a very contained space," said author Barbara Barrow. "I’ve always loved Gothic novels, and I wanted to write something in that spirit of Gothic claustrophobia. Alex Eckman-Lawn's art perfectly conveys that Gothic aesthetic. The arching spines in the foreground, and the snakelike design on the right, both express a sense of coiled, bristling tension. The hollow-socketed skulls at the bottom hint at the novel’s weird psychological atmosphere and also symbolize the figures of the two sisters who both mirror and combat each other. The curtains and draperies suggest the novel’s themes of repressed or hidden secrets, but they also allude, in a more literal way, to one of the more bizarre treatments the girls undergo, one that is at the center of the plot.
"And there, in the middle of it all, is the misty figure of the woman, her face in shadow, her arms reaching out to the sides, with all these currents or filaments gathering around her. I think of the woman as representing the character Addie: vulnerable yet ferocious, contained and refusing her containment, looking outward in a way that strikes me as furtive but also confrontational."
The first 50 preorders of The Quelling through the Lanternfish Press website will come with a bookplate signed by the author. You can also preorder The Quelling from your local independent bookstore, Barnes & Noble, or other online retailers. And don't forget to add the book on Goodreads!