Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
An eerie delight suffuses Samantha Hunt's Mr. Splitfoot, a novel that is by turns a ghost story, a love story, a murder mystery, a family saga, a picaresque outlaw yarn and a survivor's ballad of loss and rebirth. It's also about motherhood. And being poor in Rust Belt upstate New York. And con games that turn real in highly unexpected ways. Hunt is adept at blending the magical with grimy reality, as she did in her first two novels, The Seas, which offered a twist on "The Little Mermaid," and The Invention of Everything Else, an imagined episode in the life of electricity pioneer Nikola Tesla. Here, Hunt has no need of famous figures from which to spin her tale; her ordinary people bring more than enough enchantment. A powerful undertow of sorrow, violence, and abandonment drives the narrative with as much force as the plot, which entwines the stories of orphans Ruth and Nat, who pretend (or not?) to channel the dead, and of Ruth's pregnant niece, Cora, en route to an unknown destination with her mysteriously mute aunt. Thieves, religious fanatics, bullies, nuns and damaged children populate the book, never behaving as one might expect. Every sentence, every scene, and every page surprise, thanks to Hunt's unflagging ability to make wholly original connections among people, places, things. Believe me: If you think you know where this one is going, you will find yourself to be thrillingly, deliriously wrong.
— Stacey D'erasmo