With a new sickly baby in the house and a nest of wasps on the roof (an insect to which he is deathly allergic), Steve definitely has enough on his plate before he begins to receive nightly visits from an ‘angel’. However, she comes with a tempting deal, which, like all such mysterious pacts, seems somewhat too good to be true…
If the synopsis isn’t enough to tip you off, this reviewer can assure you that The Nest is an even stranger book than you may think. Talking wasps, travelling knife sharpeners and changelings all turn up and it’s a wonder that it works as well as it does. The key to this success is a combination of how seriously it takes its premise, and Steve, the anxious protagonist whose problems provide a through-line in all the oddities. Aided by the murky charm of Jon Klassen’s illustrations, the author, Kenneth Opel, creates a dreamy yet claustrophobic atmosphere where anything can happen, but where nothing is to be trusted.
Other than the occasional plot conveniences being covered by ‘It’s all a dream!’ logic, there is little to fault in this novel and somewhere in the waking nightmare, there is a valuable lesson in accepting circumstances for what they are, instead of trying to change the impossible to your detriment. I would recommend to any reader who is a fan of chills, though this comes with a warning that their sleep may become infested afterwards.