Wicker Man meets Final Destination in Jennifer Thorne's atmospheric, unsettling folk horror novel about love, duty, and community.
On the idyllic island of Lute, every seventh summer, seven people die. No more, no less.
Lute and its inhabitants are blessed, year after year, with good weather, good health, and good fortune. They live a happy, superior life, untouched by the war that rages all around them. So it’s only fair that every seven years, on the day of the tithe, the island’s gift is honored.
Nina Treadway is new to The Day. A Florida girl by birth, she became a Lady through her marriage to Lord Treadway, whose family has long protected the island. Nina’s heard about The Day, of course. Heard about the horrific tragedies, the lives lost, but she doesn’t believe in it. It's all superstitious nonsense. Stories told to keep newcomers at bay and youngsters in line.
Then The Day begins. And it's a day of nightmares, of grief, of reckoning. But it is also a day of community. Of survival and strength. Of love, at its most pure and untamed. When The Day ends, Nina—and Lute—will never be the same.
Praise for Lute
An NPR's Best SFF & Speculative Fiction Book of 2022
"The novel’s pages are dotted with gore and loss, sure to pull on the heartstrings—and occasionally the stomachs—of even the most stoic of readers."
—Bookpage (starred review)
“[Thorne] melds traditional gothic horror with folk horror in this exceptional tale. Themes of family, community, longstanding tradition, and love are thoroughly explored in this deliberately paced novel that takes place over a handful of days. A very close exploration of grief, along with the ways it brings a community together and tears them apart, is the beating heart of the novel, palpable on every page.”
— Kathleen Townsend, Booklist (starred review)
"Thorne’s subversion of folk horror tropes and focus on small, intimate beats make for a gripping reading experience."
"Lute is an understated masterpiece of folk horror by Jennifer Thorne, an exceptionally talented new voice in the genre....Thorne’s prose is elegant in its simplicity, embracing a quiet minimalism that only enhances its sense of horror. Lute is a stunning achievement for an author new to the genre. This is the type of novel that will haunt you for years to come."
"A creepy, atmospheric story... [Thorne] teaches a master class in slow-burn terror."
"Dreamy, moody, mysterious, and haunting... [Lute] will capture your imagination as bodies drop to the floor."
—Charlotte Hollingsworth, Horrorbound
"Equally horrifying as it is beautiful, Lute will slip under your skin, haunting you until you've turned the very last page. Folk horror at its finest."
—Kim Liggett, New York Times bestselling author of The Grace Year
"Lute is as alluring as it is terrifying. Thorne’s prose is exquisite, her storytelling masterful, the setting a haunting character in itself. I wanted to savor every passage, but I was desperate to see who the island would claim next. I devoured this book.”
—Elle Cosimano, author of Finlay Donovan Knocks 'Em Dead
"Is there a dark side to paradise or a bright side of hell? That's the genius of Lute, a book made magic by its captivatingly isolated setting, spine tingling suspense, and characters with a heartbeat . . . or at least for so long as they survive The Day. This is the only creepy island I was actually sad to leave when I turned the last, spellbinding page."
—Chandler Baker, New York Times bestselling author of The Husbands
“Riveting, atmospheric and haunting, Lute feels like a dark, mesmerizing spell. I promise once you begin this taut, unrelenting stunner, you won’t be able to put it down.”
—Lee Kelly, author of City of Savages
"A creepy, atmospheric tale of familial drama, bizarre history and supernatural events, this entertaining story explores the nature of sacrifices and the way we sometimes become prisoners of our decisions."
— Gabino Iglesias, author of The Devil Takes You Home