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In this velvet-clad 1990s gothic horror, Aja encounters a charming vampire who wants to lure her into the woods—just like her missing sister.
No one ever pays attention to sixteen-year-old Aja until her perfect older sister Fiona goes missing. In the days leading up to Fiona’s disappearance, Aja notices some extraordinary things: a strange fog rolling through their idyllic suburban town, a brief moment when the sky seems to rain blood, and a host of parasitic caterpillars burrowing their way through the trees. Aja’s father, the neighbors, and even her ex-friend Mary all play down this strange string of occurrences, claiming there must be some natural explanation. It seems everyone is willing to keep living in denial until other teens start to go missing too.
Aja is horrified when she meets Padraic, the vampire responsible for all the strange occurrences. His hypnotic voice lures her to the window and tells her everything she’s longed to hear—she’s beautiful and special, and he wants nothing more than for Aja to come with him. Aja knows she shouldn’t trust him, but she’s barely able to resist his enthrallment. And following him into the woods may be the only way to find Fiona, so she agrees on one condition: He must let her leave alive if she is not wooed after one week. Though Aja plans to kill him before the week is out, Padraic has his own secrets as well.
In the misty woods, Aja finds that Padraic has made his nest with another vampire in a dilapidated church infested by blood-sucking butterflies. Within its walls, the vampires are waited on and entertained by other children they’ve enthralled, but there is no sign of Fiona. Before her bargain is up, Aja must find a way to turn her classmates against their captors, find her sister, and save them all—or be forced to join the very monsters she wants to destroy.
About the Author
Catherine Yu writes dark speculative fiction. She was born in Nanjing and is now based in New York. She is a graduate of Odyssey Writing Workshop. Direwood is her debut novel.
"Yu has crafted a dark, bloody debut with rich Gothic atmosphere and a naive yet determined protagonist [...] There are deep psychological threads at work in this story, [...] with a lot for readers to sink their teeth into."
—School Library Journal
"Flesh-eating caterpillars, blood-sucking butterflies, and gruesome seductions make this a good choice for readers looking for a throwback vampire story."
"[...] filled with atmospheric creepiness and gore."
"An intriguing combination of horror and coming of age [...] that will have readers haunted for weeks after it's finished."
"Yu carefully balances gory horror and vampire mysticism with the protagonist's desire for independence [...] [A] riveting paranormal romance [...] that thoughtfully contemplates fitting in amid societal pressures."
“Drenched in blood-slick gothic dread and chewing under your skin to unsettle you down to the bones, Direwood is as sharp and hungry as the vampires inside it. Go on, open the door. See what happens.”
—Andrew Joseph White, author of Hell Followed with Us
“A blood-damp, butterfly-riddled fever dream, Direwood is both swoon- and shudder-worthy. What starts as a patter of fear turns into a torrential onslaught of dread as this surreal story beckons you down into its depths where something terrifying lurks in wait.”
—Elizabeth Kilcoyne, author of Wake the Bones
“Direwood is a lush, eerie debut, a gothic tangle of familial and societal expectations that is challenged—and then unraveled—by a supernatural presence. Yu makes the macabre beautiful and captivating, just like the creatures at the heart of the dire woods.”
—Alison Ames, author of To Break a Covenant
“Direwood is a sumptuous fever dream of a novel in the best way. Yu's ethereal prose shines in this gothic dissection of sisterhood, sacrifice, and monstrosity.”
—Tori Bovalino, author of Not Good for Maidens