“Cormorant Lake has been called fantastical. But to me it reads as very real. It tells a story of generations of women who live without men. Parenting, husbanding, repairing their homes, caring for the sick and weak. Desiring. Women who haunt each other for what they’ve done and failed to do. Women who hurt their mothers, their children, their own minds and bodies, their friends. Women who try to hold their societies together by themselves. This darkly compelling debut mirrors a woman’s nightmares, and equally, her realities.” —Katherine Forbes Riley, author of The Bobcat, long-listed for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize
Longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize
On a cold November night, Evelyn Van Pelt steals her roommate’s two underfed and neglected little girls from their beds and drives to the northwestern hometown she fled fourteen years earlier—Cormorant Lake. There, hidden in the mountains and woods, dense with fog and the cold of winter, Evelyn grapples with the guilt of what she’s done, and as she attempts to reconcile her wild independence with the responsibilities of parenthood, she reconnects with the two women who raised her—her foster mother, Nan, and her biological mother, Jubilee. But by coming home, she has set in motion a series of events that will revive the decades-old tragedy that haunts Cormorant Lake—and lead her to confront the high cost of protecting her secret.
At once fantastical and deeply rooted in the natural world, Faith Merino’s deeply affecting and spirited debut novel explores the shape of family, the enduring bonds of friendship, and the imperfections of motherhood—messy and beautiful, instinctive and learned, temporal but permanently life-altering.