Summary and book reviews of Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt

Mr. Splitfoot

by Samantha Hunt

Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt X
Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt
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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jan 2016, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2017, 336 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kate Braithwaite

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About this Book

Book Summary

A contemporary gothic from an author in the company of Kelly Link and Aimee Bender, Mr. Splitfoot tracks two women in two times as they march toward a mysterious reckoning.

Ruth and Nat are orphans, packed into a house full of abandoned children run by a religious fanatic. To entertain their siblings, they channel the dead. Decades later, Ruth's niece, Cora, finds herself accidentally pregnant. After years of absence, Aunt Ruth appears, mute and full of intention. She is on a mysterious mission, leading Cora on an odyssey across the entire state of New York on foot. Where is Ruth taking them? Where has she been? And who - or what - has she hidden in the woods at the end of the road? 

In an ingeniously structured dual narrative, two separate timelines move toward the same point of crisis. Their merging will upend and reinvent the whole. A subversive ghost story that is carefully plotted and elegantly constructed, Mr. Splitfoot will set your heart racing and your brain churning. Mysteries abound, criminals roam free, utopian communities show their age, the mundane world intrudes on the supernatural and vice versa. 

Making good on the extraordinary acclaim for her previous books, Samantha Hunt continues to be "dazzling" (Vanity Fair) and to deliver fiction that is "daring and delicious" (Chicago Tribune.)

Excerpt>br>Mr. Splitfoot

Far from here, there's a church. Inside the church, there's a box. Inside the box is Judas's hand." Nat is slight and striking as a birch branch.

"Who cut it off?" Ruth asks. "How?"

But Nat's a preacher in a fever. His lesson continues with a new topic. "Baby deer have no scent when they are born." Nat conducts the air. "Keeps those babies safe as long as their stinking mothers stay far away." This is how Nat loves Ruth. He fills her head with his wisdom.

"My mom doesn't stink."

"You don't even know who your mom is, Ru."

"Of course I do. She's a veterinarian. She already had too many animals when I was born."

"I don't believe you."

Ruth looks left, then right. "OK. She's a bank robber. When you're asleep, she brings me money."

"Where's all the cash, then? Are you hiding it in some big cardboard box?"

So Ruth swerves again, returning to the version of a mother she uses most often. "I mean my mom's a bird, a red...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Part ghost story, part love story, part modern gothic horror, Mr. Splitfoot is an original, vivid and compelling work of literary fiction. Although at times the story becomes almost mired in its own beautifully described misery – for example when Cora says, "There's sacrifice, antagonism, rebellion, obsession, and adoration, but no properly complex word for what's between a mother and a daughter, roots so twisted, a relationship so deep, people suffocated it in kitsch and comfort words to pretend it's easy." – uncovering the truth of Ruth's history and accompanying Cora towards motherhood is ultimately a rewarding journey.   (Reviewed by Kate Braithwaite).

Full Review (551 words).

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Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. This spellbinder is storytelling at its best.

Library Journal
Starred Review. Readers of many genres will love this novel. It's billed as a ghost story, but it's also a road-trip narrative, a mystery, and a coming-of-age story, told with lyrical language.

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. A truly fantastic novel in which the blurring of natural and supernatural creates a stirring, visceral conclusion.

Author Blurb Kelly Link, author of Get in Trouble, Magic for Beginners, and many others
Samantha Hunt is astonishing. Her every sentence electrifies. Her characters demand our closest attention. Her new book contains everything that I want in a novel. If I could long-distance mesmerize you, dear reader, into picking up this book and buying it and reading it at once, believe me: I would.

Author Blurb Gary Shteyngart, author of Little Failure, Super Sad True Love Story, and many others
I'm speechless. Mr. Splitfoot is so inventive, so new; I haven't read anything like it in years. On the surface it's about false spirituality and the most demented road trip across New York State ever attempted, but it's also about the horrible ties that bind us and the small acts of redemption that make life almost okay. On top of that, it's a thrilling page-turner.  I couldn't stop reading it.

Author Blurb Luc Sante, author of Low Life and many others
Mr. Splitfoot is lyrical, echoing, deeply strange, with a quality of sustained hallucination. It is the best book on communicating with the dead since William Lindsay Gresham's Nightmare Alley, but it swaps out that novel's cynicism for a more life-affirming sense of uncertainty.

Author Blurb Sarah Manguso, author of Ongoingness, Two Kinds of Decay, and others
Mr. Splitfoot is an absolutely thrilling book. Filial and maternal love are on display in all their complicated hugeness. But Hunt gives us plenty of humor amid the horror and awe - and then turns on the lights and shows us what was looming above us the whole time. I can't stop thinking about it.

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Beyond the Book

The Golden Record

In Mr. Splitfoot, Samantha Hunt's new novel of ghosts, cults and motherhood, two characters fall in love while listening to the Golden Record.

Voyager spacecrafts 1 and 2 launched from Earth in 1977 and continue to travel further away from our planet, transmitting information back through the Deep Space Network. Theirs is an interstellar mission, extending NASA's space exploration of our solar system to the outer limits of the sun's influence and possibly beyond. On board, is the ultimate message in a bottle: a phonographic 12-inch record made of gold-plated copper known as The Golden Record, compiled by a team of people led by the American scientist, astronomer and author Carl Sagan. The outside of the record is transcribed with a key ...

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