The Nesting by C.J. Cooke

Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date:
Length: 416 pages
Gothic Horror | Thriller | European folklore

CW: domestic abuse, self harm, suicide

Architect Tom Faraday is determined to finish the high-concept, environmentally friendly home he’s building in Norway – in the same place where he lost his wife, Aurelia, to suicide. It was their dream house, and he wants to honor her with it.

Lexi Ellis takes a job as his nanny and immediately falls in love with his two young daughters, especially Gaia. But something feels off in the isolated house nestled in the forest along the fjord. Lexi sees mysterious muddy footprints inside the home. Aurelia’s diary appears in Lexi’s room one day. And Gaia keeps telling her about seeing the terrifying Sad Lady…

Soon Lexi suspects that Aurelia didn’t kill herself and that they are all in danger from something far more sinister lurking around them.



I’m a bit late to the party when it comes to The Nesting, however after seeing it sitting on my shelf for a while I thought that now would be the perfect time to start it with the nights getting longer.

I loved the opening and the way we were constantly thrown between the present day with Lexi and the past with Aurelia. I found that by jumping between the two I was both at an advantage of understanding the situation better and at a disadvantage for not knowing nearly as much as I thought I did. This led to some great ‘penny drop’ moments for me with the plot that were so satisfying! The plot, Norwegian folklore and the Gothic devices scattered throughout were my favourite aspects of the novel. Cooke layered the atmosphere in a truly gripping way which had me reading over half of the novel in one night before I, reluctantly, had to call it a night and go to bed.

The parallels between Lexi and Aurelia were really interesting to me and added more depth to the plot, however it would have been nice to have seen this explored a little further. All of the characters had a lot of potential to grow and develop but didn’t quite reach their full potential over the course of the novel. That isn’t to say that they weren’t already interesting and complex in the way they were presented but it still felt like there was more that we could have seen. Out of all the characters my favourite was Gaia. I’ve said in previous reviews, but I often find child characters the least likeable; however, I loved the way Cooke portrayed Gaia. There were many moments where Gaia’s innocent questions or comments would really shift the atmosphere and put me on edge, especially when it came to her drawings of the eyeless ‘Sad Lady’.

Whilst I did love a majority of the novel, I felt that the ending, particularly the pacing of it, let the novel down and left me feeling quite underwhelmed. Up until this point the pacing of the novel had been well done and fairly balanced, however, it suddenly becomes very rushed with key plot points and reveals being glossed over or raced through. The final few chapters felt very disjointed from the rest of the novel and had me questioning their relation to other parts of the novel up until this point.

Overall, although the novel did fall flat in some areas in terms of characters and pacing, this novel is filled with Gothic unease and Norwegian folklore which will definitely put you on edge as we begin to see less and less daylight with some grotesque imagery which will haunt your mind for the rest of the season.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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