Cover Image: The Nesting

The Nesting

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Member Reviews

The Nesting combines elements of a psychological and gothic thriller, adds a smattering of unsettling Nordic folklore and mixes them together in this ambitious but ultimately frustrating attempt at a modern chiller.  It is also one very busy novel that requires a hefty suspension of disbelief which begins with twenty-eight-year-old Lexi Ellis recovering from a failed suicide attempt only to be dumped by the boyfriend whose home she lives in.  Effectively homeless, Lexi overhears a young woman discussing applying to be a nanny in Norway and her ears prick up.  Suicidal as she is, she somehow finds the energy to steal the young woman’s name, CV and references and following a week in a women’s shelter turn up for interview and answer a few cursory questions to secure the job.  Posing as Sophie Hallerton with a nursing degree, the ability to deliver a Montessori education and a certificate in vegan cookery there is no sign of the fragile woman of a week before when Lexi arrives in Norway.

The job entails looking after the daughters of high-concept architect, Tom Faraday, who is returning to Norway to recommence building on ‘Aurelia’s Nest’, a family home named after his wife who committed suicide just nine months previously.  Against her expectations Lexi falls in love with infant Coco and six-year-old Gaia but the more she learns about the ominous circumstances that wrecked Tom’s previous attempt at building a home (‘Basecamp’) and Aurelia’s death from housekeeper Maren gives her cause for concern.  When a series of strange happening begin that include finding animal footprints inside the house, strange moaning sounds from the basement, visions of a strange ‘Sad Lady’ also seen by Gaia and deceased Aurelia’s diary following the birth of Coco turning up Lexi starts to worry that the children could be in serious danger.  Combine these with reading Gaia rather sinister Norwegian folk fairytales and Maren’s ominous warnings about the destruction of Basecamp being payback for humans interfering with Mother Nature and it all gets a bit hectic.

The story follows a ‘Now’ and ‘Then’ dual narrative, the present day component predominantly told by potentially unreliable Lexi in the first person and the past component made up of snapshots into Tom’s increasingly doomed first build along with extracts from Aurelia’s diary.  The plotting is patchy and things occur which do not always lead anywhere, making for a not entirely coherent whole with deviations from anything requiring a potentially tricky explanation!  In fact there is so much happening, much of it not followed up on, that it’s hard to make out the authors intention and see the wood from the trees, let alone the fjord!  The reader doesn’t really learn anything significant about Lexi’s own troubled childhood until much further into the novel and the main source of narrative tension is derived from her suspicions that husband Tom had a hand in Aurelia’s death and her determination to protect the children.  The eventual conclusion is strangely neat given all the events of the novel and left too much unaddressed for me to swallow or make for a wholly satisfying read.

By far the most interesting aspect of the novel is the obviously well-researched elements of Nordic folklore which, when combined with snapshots of the landscape outside of the lodge, do evoke an oppressive atmosphere.  Disappointing the novel fails to weave these native myths into the overarching mystery of Aurelia’s death and they sit alongside in a disappointingly unconvincing manner.
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This book kept getting pushed down my huge tbr pile repeatedly, and I wish I hadn’t done!

What is really mad about this book is that Lexi’s friend lives in the same streets at I did until last year. What a coincidence! 

However, back to the story, really loved it, I disliked Lexi at the start but I quickly warmed to her.

The description of this book as a gothic nanny story is bang on. It’s exactly that, and for me it hit all of the buttons. Creepy!

My thanks to Netgalley and HarperCollins UK, HarperFiction for the advance copy in exchange for an honest review
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Very different to my usual book. But I loved it. It’s mystery mixed with a fairy tale/gothic type story. Please buy this! 5/5.
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Unfortunately I just could not get into this book. It may be one for other readers, but I was unable to finish it.
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This book is a really interesting mix of gothic fairytale, environmental parable and exploration of depression. It is dreamy and ethereal and dark and scary, and surreal all at the same time. The threads are so tightly and cleverly woven together by the author that, even by the end, you won’t be quite sure what is real and what has been a dream.

The book is told through the voices of a number of people. Troubled Lexi, running from her demons and her problems, finds herself hiding out in Norway, pretending to be someone she isn’t in an effort to find a life better than the one she has been living. Tom, battling the forces of nature in a remote Norwegian forest to balance building his beloved wife’s dream holiday home with protecting this unspoilt wilderness. And Aurelia, feeling isolated in the aftermath of her second daughter’s birth and haunted by the ghosts of the Norwegian forest. Each of them experiences supernatural events in the dark, Norwegian forest and the remote fjord, but which are real, and which are products of troubled minds.

The dive into Norwegian folklore and stories was the part that most drew me to this book, because anything along those lines fascinates me. I loved the way that the author wove them in to the narrative of the novel, and used them to make commentary on the impact of human beings on the planet and its non-human inhabitants without being preachy. It was also a clever way to explore why we are drawn to stories of darkness to explain things that we are afraid to confront inside ourselves.

Aside from these themes, this is just a cracking good story that is a compelling read. What is actually happening out there in the Norwegian forest? What is Aurelia really experiencing, and what is just a result of the problems that can afflict women after child birth that can go unnoticed and unrecognised by those around her? Is Lexi’s past going to come back to haunt her? Is Tom everything he seems to be? I was eager every time to get back to listening to the book, and it made some mundane chores seem a lot less arduous, I was so engrossed.

The Nesting is a great book for anyone who loves the gothic and the mythic, but also for anyone interested in the human brain and the things it can do for us when we are thrown off balance. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and will definitely be recommending it to a few friends.
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If you are in the mood for a twisty, chilling thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat then this book more than hits the mark with its spooky story. It’s definitely one of those books that lingers in your mind after you’ve put it down and makes your fingers twitch to get back to it.

It is a definitely firmly in the thriller genre, but also so much more. At its heart is a deep mystery with a narrative that moves between past and present, revealing more and more of this story of identity and loss, drip by drip, drawing you in. Amidst the mystery are also layered tangles of Nordic folklore, superstition and the supernatural. The untamed wild Norwegian landscape of  fjords and dark, creepy forests in which the book also feels like a character in the book, only adding to the growing palpable tension.

Curl up, get a glass of something you like and immerse yourself in this spooky, gothic treat.
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First of all I just wanted to pass comment on the absolutely stunning and bewitching cover of The Nesting by C.J. Cooke. 

The Nesting is a gothic tale of the finest proportions, perfect for the nights that are now drawing in. I recommend hunkering down and getting totally swept up in this often bleak and brutal story of Norwegian Fjords, folklore and psychological suspense. Although I would personally recommend leaving a light on. 

Lexi is a complex character and has been having a tough time so when by chance more than anything she stumbles across a job as a Nanny it seems like the perfect escape and an opportunity for reinvention. Lexi is feeling that she might have bitten off more than she can chew when she realises that the job is in fact in Norway and she is leaving virtually straight away. 

The job will be challenging that is for sure the two young girls have recently lost their mother Aurelia and husband Tom is grieving and on the surface seems more interested in money and work than his childrens well being. 
So when the atmosphere around the house and strange things seem to be going on Lexi puts it down to herself and her current state of mind at her recent events. Although it transpires that she might not be the only one that is finding things a little strange and unusual. 
Tom is an architect and he is building a house for his wife Aurelia, when she passes away he decides to finish it anyway. I found the landscape took on a character and a life of it's own. I could hear the noise of the fjords and sense the vastness and the great beauty. Also the fact that some things are way bigger than us as humans and that we should often have more respect for what is around us and our environment. Some things and places are meant to be wild and not tamed. 
The Nesting is told in the present by Lexi and also other chapters revert back to the past and events that have led up to the present. I found these particularly moving and a sense of foreboding was screaming out across the pages like a howl in the wind.  At points a shiver ran down my spine as if I was standing underneath the snow covered trees.
I found The Nesting completely unsettling, incredibly compelling and an ode to Norway, to the landscape and the vastness of nature and also a nod to the folklore that features. 
Beautiful and bewitching in equal measure.
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Persuasive writing , adept and allusive writing draws us into this unlikely story of survival of spirit in amazing and compelling way .. I've never read her work before (in any of the pseudonyms) but I'm certainly looking now.  Serendipity is perhaps stretched  when she takes on another identity and then pens her own novel but it sure works!
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I really enjoyed reading this book and thank NetGalley for the opportunity to do so in exchange for an honest review. The style of writing is enthralling and the story is an absolute page turner.
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I really enjoyed this book, got Turn of the Key and Bly Manor vibes from it. It was interesting and well put together - the animal imagery was brilliant and I enjoyed reading it a lot. 

BUT I’m writing this review a month and a half after I read it and I can’t remember what happened in the end. I may need to rethink my rating...
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A thoroughly modern mystery, set deep in a beautiful backdrop of woods, cliffs and fjords. 
The storyline was composed of very contemporary issues, intertwined with dark and ancient folklore, producing a dark tale with a fresh and innovative air.
The characters were woven well, realistic and engaging. 
This was an intriguing read, with layers of stories within stories, creating an atmospheric and highly enjoyable read. 
I couldn't put it down
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Winter Scandi noir books are absolutely my thing and The Nesting deserves a place on the bookshelf of all fans of this genre of literature. Lexi has lost her boyfriend and her best friend when both of them decide to move in together. Lexi gets to move on when she, by chance on a train,  overhears nanny Sophie talking about a post with a Norwegian architect widower and his two daughters. Lexi, as Sophie, impulsively applies for the position...and gets it. But when she arrives at the remote Norwegian farm nothing is as it seems. While Lexibonds with her charges she begins to hear strange noises in the house, see elk footprints and receive visitations from a woman ... without any eyes. Why is the architect Tom pursuing building a home in a remote area, just how did his wife die and why are locals reluctant to work with him. This is a beautifully written fabulously dark and unsettling horror story. Highly recommend.
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When someone is in such a depressed state that she has nowhere to go and no-one to turn to, then Lexi the central character jumps at the opportunity to take on Sophie's identity when she overhears her conversation on a train and ends up being appointed as a nanny to an architect. But this is no ordinary family as the mother has supposedly committed suicide and the father is building an amazing project deep in a Norwegian forest. As the story jumps between past and present, Aurelia the new mother and Lexi in the guise of Sophie the nanny we learn that there is something disturbing about the setting and the power of the nearby waters of the fjord. And throwing into the mix the detached state of the father and the fact that this amazing project is running out of finance and the partnesr are arguing about completion - then one realises that something is going to happen. Lexi sees things that are not there in the same way that Aurelia had and also there is a folk tale that is a theme that runs through the story. This is an atmostpheric gothic novel that is totally absorping and the underlying theme is one of vulnerability and depression. Having lived for a short time in Norway the author brings to life the feeling of darkness and winter so appropriately. Brilliant story!
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The Nesting by C. J. Cooke
From the moment I turned on my e-reader, I was totally absorbed in this book! It was written from the perspective of two different characters, Lexi and Aurelia, through past and present storytelling. As the reader learned more about each woman, the tale became darker and darker, and evermore sinister. The Nesting was a powerful and very suspenseful story with great use of folklore. Set in Norway, it was an atmospheric drama with a marvellous horror thriller element, Gothic undertones and a story that touched on issues of mental health, grief, nature and the environment.

Often an emotional read, the author, C. J. Cooke explored themes of vulnerability and desperation, individual personalities and depression. The intriguing mystery kept me turning the pages throughout. I fully immersed myself in this one, following avidly as it moved towards a fulfilling culmination. The Nesting was character driven, ghostly and hugely fascinating, making it an utterly compelling read.

An addictive, quick-moving and creepy horror thriller that I highly recommend.

I received a complimentary copy of this novel at my request from HarperCollins UK/ HarperFiction via NetGalley. This review is my own unbiased opinion.
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Wow. What a book! I have to admit, I was a bit unsure of this one, especially in light of its mixed reviews, but I'm so so glad I gave it a go. I personally love a good thriller, especially one with gothic undertones, but they are generally a bit of a washout, and I often find them hard to get into. The Nesting was completely different, and you were drawn in immediately by the writing style. I loved the tone, particularly of Lexi's chapters - it felt very chatty and relaxed, and completely drew you in even before any sinister events had begun. And once those creepy happenings begin... well, let's just say that there was one section in particular involving a basement that literally left me unable to sleep. I'm not normally a wimp when it comes to things like this, but the gothic imagery and the sinister tone really got to me, and I was totally freaked out!

So, there's a dual timeline approach here, flicking between Lexi in the now, and Aurelia in the past. I absolutely loved this, as it meant there was a real slow burn of tension being built - you know how Aurelia's story is going to end, but you have no idea how she got to that point, so there's that almost watching through your fingers feeling as you see her story develop. The atmosphere in this book is arguably one of its main strengths, along with its fantastic characterisation. Norway itself is almost like a character in its own right, with its ancient forests and magnificent fjords being described in a beautifully vivid manner. There's also a lot of folklore woven through the story, which I personally found really interesting (at times it felt almost like a fairytale for grown ups!), but I admit that it may not be for everyone - there's definitely a few times where you need to suspend your disbelief, but it's totally worth it. 

All in all, I absolutely loved it. It truly is a fantastic example of how to write a modern gothic thriller, with the setting, tone, and characters all conspiring to create one of the best books I've read this year. It's completely riveting, with a writing style that I've never seen in other gothic thrillers, but which makes it all the more addictive. Definitely one I'd recommend (but maybe don't read it at night....

Disclaimer - I was fortunate enough to be provided with an advance reading copy of this book by NetGalley. This has not affected my review in any way, and all opinions are my own.
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The Nesting was a very different book from the one I was expecting. 
I didn't really feel a connection with any of the characters and that made it hard to care about them and their situation. The story follows Lexi who steals the identity of another woman in other to become a nanny to two children in Norway after the death of their mother. This is a story that should be very much up my street and while I enjoyed aspects of the book it never reached the highs it could have done. 
This book was very up and down for me. The plot would speed up and slow down at various points and it was a bit of a task getting into the story initially as it felt very tropey. However, I found that when I got halfway through the book I was happily in the story. I feel like there is a lot of potential in this book but it didn't quite do it for me.
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Lexi has hit rock bottom. She has no home, no job, no life. When she overhears a conversation about a nanny job in Norway, she takes an opportunity, steals an identity and moves to Norway working as a.nanny for a recently widowed man. 
The story is Grim fairy tale esq. and is a spooky, thriller page turner.
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3.5 of 5 stars
My Five Word TL:DR Review : Atmospheric setting, slightly perplexing plot

The Nesting is a book that I enjoyed but at the same time it didn’t quite wow me the way I’d expected it to.  To be fair, the writing is great and really easy to get along with, in fact the strength of the writing won me over completely and I will definitely check out other works by this author based on this read.  Before I get ahead of myself though, a little about the plot.

As the story begins we meet Lexi Ellis who is going through a very dark period in her life.  I won’t elaborate but things don’t improve and Lexi finds herself, friendless, boyfriendless, jobless and homeless in fairly quick order when a chance encounter seems to reverse her bad fortune.  However, there is one small glitch, Lexi needs to take a new identity to turn her life around and by ‘take’ I mean steal.  So, new identity in place, Lexi takes the job and moves to Norway where her new employer (Tom) is building a summer house overlooking a Fjord and needs a nanny to take care of his two children following their mother’s suicide.

The setting is inspired and I loved it.  It is indeed gothic.  We have a major building project in the works here. This is a make or break project and tension runs high, especially as problems keep mounting. We have this whole feeling of nature rebelling against the work taking place.  Trees that seem ominously close, water sprites and hoof prints that mysteriously appear.  There are creepy carry ons, mysteriously forbidden basements and ghostly apparitions.  On top of that the story is infused with Norwegian folklore and stories that add an extra layer.

To the characters.  Well, obviously we have Lexi – also known as Sophie for a good portion of the story (stolen identity and all).  We have Aurelia, her storyline takes place in the past.  Aurelia was Tom’s wife until she committed suicide and we now spend time with her in the past to help build up the backstory of how the summer house plan came to fruition in the first place.  There are the two children, Gaia and Coco.  Gaia suffers nightmares and frequently wakes during the night.  Lexi really falls for both girls and in spite of her lack of experience and being thrown into the deep end a little she makes pretty good progress.  There are more characters, including a housekeeper who has secrets herself but I don’t want to elaborate too much.

The thing is, this has everything that I love in spades and even writing this review I’m getting excited all over again about the gothic creepy feel and the homage to other classics such as Rebecca which sprang into my mind whilst reading, and so why didn’t this totally win me over.  Well, the plot is a little unusual.  There are a number of elements.  There’s the gothic story itself, there’s all the folklore elements, a haunting and a murder mystery and it just feels like there’s too much and a number of the threads remain unresolved.  I wasn’t quite sure if this was down to an unreliable narrator but certain points just didn’t seem to go anywhere.

So, overall, in spite of issues regarding the story and a few unresolved threads this is a well written book and I’m not entirely sure whether the issues I had are more about my lack of concentrations at the moment.  One thing I can say is that this is superbly written and I feel like I’ve found a ‘new to me author’ to check out.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.
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As the lives of two womennseparated by time are woven together, CJ Cooke takes us on a hauntingly atmospheric tale of chilling woods, sad ghosts and a tragic past. It's a classic gothic tale, that oozes threat and malice while managing to keep the reader enthralled in unravelling a mystery locked in a secret diary. 

Told through two POVs, I found myself drawn more to Lexi's contemporary story, which was riddled with the constant threat of hauntings from the mysterious sad lady with holes for eyes. Including the two motherless children added to the creepy atmosphere. I don't know what it is about children in horror, but they always seem to up the spook level. There is a level of suspense that is often hard to maintain in these types of thrillers, however I think it was handled well here. The pacing stays tight and fast throughout, not allowing this tension to drop and I think this is enhanced by the inclusion of Nordic folklore, which added a level of authenticity to the story. 

I also found that I warmed to Lexi (or Sophie, depending on who she was talking to). From the start she seems like the stereotypical gothic thriller protagonist. Someone who lies to get a job as a nanny to creepy children, who then gets into a heap of trouble. However, over the course of the story I found her to be well developed and interesting. Her compassion to the children made her endearing, and by reading Aurelia's diary we see links and comparisons between the two women. 

An interesting take on a common gothic trope, with a bucketful of atmosphere and some nice characterisation. With a fast paced plot and plenty of twists and turns, this was a fun (if scary!) ride.
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“The Nesting” by C.J. Cooke is a perfect combination between a gothic suspense thriller and a haunted house story. 

We follow Lexi who decides to leave her troubled  life behind and move to Norway to work as a live-in nanny to two little girls. But she soon realises that she is about to deal which much more than what she originally thought. 

The author created an incredible and a chilling to the bone atmosphere in the book - mysterious death, an isolated old house by the fjord and suspicious characters. I love how the story combines the elements of nature with a Nordic folklore which makes the book very unique and interesting. I’ve found the novel to be extremely well written with some very fascinating descriptions of nature and local believes and I was unable to put the it down. I must admit I was a tiny bit disappointed with the ending as I felt it was a little bit rushed and predictable but I still enjoyed the plot itself. 

It was a great thriller that definitely stands out from the other. If you like a creepy story “The Nesting” would be a perfect choice.
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