Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn is a dark young adult paranormal thriller (available June 11, 2013).
A girl stumbles out of the night wearing a garbage bag as a poncho. She has no idea where she is or how she got there. When the Oklahoma family who finds her call the authorities, a missing person report pings and her identity is revealed. The girl is Annaliese Rose Gordon, a teenager who disappeared one year ago from Buffalo, New York. On the night she vanished, she appeared at a party, covered in blood and screaming. No one had seen her since.
But the girl remembers none of this. She can’t explain where she’s been for the past year. She can’t explain the scar on her head or her short hair. Her mother and father pick her up, take her home, and try to reintroduce Annaliese to her love of chocolate, her best friend Gwen, and her love of family road trips.
The only problem is that the girl they’ve brought home isn’t Annaliese.
Another Little Piece is Kate Karyus Quinn’s debut novel, and her exploration of Annaliese is a fascinating ride. Annaliese may not remember her first sexual experience, but she knows enough about herself to realize that the puzzle pieces aren’t fitting.
Her mother – who Annaliese refers to as “the mom” – brings her a chocolate bar, thinking that Annaliese will love it, but the taste of chocolate makes her vomit and only exposes the distance between herself and the mom.
The dad had pulled onto the side of the road by then, and they’d both gotten out of the car, throwing all the doors open. Together they stared at me like I was some kind of wild animal that had wandered into their car, and they were waiting for me to realize I didn’t belong here and go back to wherever I had come from. I simply sat there, staring at my puke-spattered sneakers.
Finally the mom handed me a tissue. Only then did I notice the runny nose and tears leaking down the side of my face.
“I think I must have gotten carsick,” I said feebly.
“Annaliese was never carsick.”
The mom didn’t seem to notice that she had referred to Annaliese as if she was a different person from me, a person who now existed only in the past tense.
Piece by broken piece, Annaliese’s past is revealed as memories begin to return, but not in a pleasant way. As she watches the runningback on her high school team return a ball, she feels a surging hunger, something dangerous and threateningly bloody. It frightens her.
Quinn’s revelations are calculated beautifully. The reader discovers what needs to be discovered at the exact right moments…and the revelations just keep getting worse. Right when you think you have it figured out, additional forces come into play.
A lot of the time those forces are other characters with their own agendas. Like Dex, the very special boy next door. Logan the football star. Gwen, the best friend. The weird red-headed freshman. The mom. The dad. And Annaliese herself – the old Annaliese, who spitballed her poetry so she could hide it better.
I practice the words
where people find
to ever say them
The poetry is a strangely touching way to reveal Annaliese’s thoughts and feelings. Quinn intersperses the poetry throughout, which helps to break up some of the bleak and truly horrific moments – one of which will have Stephen King fans nodding and saying “Ah, yes, Carrie.”
And as she came closer, the blood became clearer. It was everywhere. Streaming from her forehead, it obliterated half of Annaliese’s face. Her mouth, open wide in an O, was nothing but a red, moving wound. The blood dripped from her hands too, even as she held them out in an obvious plea for help.
Another Little Piece is a solid debut, and perfect for both teens and adults alike. Quinn doesn’t talk down to the reader at all – revealing what needs to revealed in the perfect places and with perfect pitch. The quiet moments are touching. The loud moments are screaming. And every moment in between holds its own. It’ll leave you wondering what strange things are out there, lurking in the dark.
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ISBN: 9780062135957. For more information, or to buy a copy, visit:
Jenny Maloney is a reader and writer in Colorado. Her short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in 42 Magazine, Shimmer, Skive, and others. She blogs about writing at Notes from Under Ground. If you like to talk books, reading, publishing, movies, or writing feel free to follow her on Twitter: @JennyEMaloney.