Lute by Jennifer Thorne: Horrific and Compelling

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.

Part of why Jennifer Thorne’s novel Lute is horrific and compelling is the way it combines very human conditions such as loss and grief and supernatural horror. The story pulls you in straight from the beginning with touches of foreshadowing set up right away. The themes resonate around family, community, traditions and love. In addition, there is a very real mounting tension and fear set up, a dread that envelops you from the beginning. The small town atmosphere only adds to that element. 

I think the other reason I find it such an interesting novel is the main character Nina. As Nina embraces the ideas of the island and begins to accept what she’s told, she grows into a power, into herself and becomes something greater by the end of the narrative. Her character is warm, loving, and her voice is rich and compelling. 

If you want to read a novel that is a cross between The Wicker Man and Final Destination, I think this novel is both horrific and compelling. The themes will resonate with you and you will fall in love with Lute and the people. 

Rating: 5 out of 5 traditions. 

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