Folk horror novels are among some of my favourite books ever. The genre is my favourite to really get stuck into because there is so much lore to understand before you actually go further into the book. When we read folktales, we must always keep an open mind as to how these were read and believed in their own countries and times of recitation. When reading "The Nesting" by C.J Cooke, I noticed that there were tons of references to these incredible Norwegian folk tales that I myself had heard of before. The one thing I adore about folktales from that part of the world is that their attention to nature is extreme and they iterate that we, as humans, appreciate but do not understand nature.
"The Nesting" by C.J Cooke is a beautiful folk horror about a woman called Lexi who goes to work as a nanny in Norway. She is feeling helpless and weak at the time, but the children who are very very young, have recently lost their mother. Lexi comes to realise that it is not just the grief of their mother that keeps the children (Gaia and Coco) waking up at night. It is not even close. From an elk's footprints next to her bed, to the image of a woman without any eyes, a strange housekeeper who has the dead mother's trinkets in her room and a couple that live in the same house that seem like the image of a strange, but loving couple - until they don't; this book is a brilliant example of what folk horror should be. It is ghostly, it is eerie and calm and it is interlaced with violence and remorse, the likes of which we never saw coming.
The character of Lexi is constructed on a number of points - the first being her avid depression. Lexi searches for purpose in a world where she feels she has none and must move country before she can find that purpose. When the book begins to deviate into the world of folk horror, Lexi slowly becomes her own person and chooses to find out more. Her depression is still underlying the book though and I feel like this is one of the many things that ties her to the mother of the children. Another thing that ties her to the mother is secrecy - this sense that something is always wrong and someone is always watching. There is a creeping uncertainty that moves through every chapter and presses hard against the storyline each time certain characters talk to her or doing anything that may seem only suspicious to those who could be acting suspicious themselves.
Another thing I loved about this book was the multiple narration that was going on. We had the first person for Lexi's chapters in the 'now' section, third person limited for the 'now' section where Tom was the main character, third person limited for the 'then' chapters with Aurelia and first person for the diary chapters with Aurelia. It was a brilliant blend of different narrative styles so that the reader can get the most out of the book and still feel like they are connected to the characters in some way, shape or form. It also helped to understand the main voice of the book which was Lexi's - she is the main character and so she has the longest amount of time with a first person voice - the chapters on Aurelia's diary is as if Lexi is reading it and so, they are shorter. The chapters that are third person limited with Tom as the main character are flatter in voice that we have of the character of Lexi. This definitely helps to understand all the aspects of her character, including her personality and her habits, and especially her voice.
In conclusion, I thought that this book was a beautiful example of what a modern folk horror should be and a brilliant example of a piece of literature which uses post-modern techniques of narrative in a way which enhances the reading experience. I adored it and I'm sure you will too.