I’m tired, and it’s Kelly Braffet’s fault. Her winningly creepy first novel, Josie and Jack, kept me up until 5:00 last Sunday morning, when I reached its perfect last sentence, dropped my head, and drifted off into dreams that were comparatively mundane.
This is how the book begins:
The worst hangovers come on the sunniest days. Even at sixteen I knew enough to expect that. The day when Jack drove me into town to buy aspirin, the sun was shining and the sky was the brilliant blue of a crayon drawing.
That’s Josie narrating. She and her brother Jack live nearly alone in an isolated, sprawling old house in industrial Pennsylvania; their father teaches physics at a college some hours away, where he spends his weekdays. Josie has only Jack in the world; though Jack is also devoted to her, he is ferociously charming and relishes the easy work of bending others to his will. The two don’t go to school and, up to the point where the novel begins, they don’t otherwise interact with anyone outside their magic circle. When they first do bring an outsider halfway in, the trouble starts. When they sally forth into the world together, it compounds.
While the sly Braffet keeps her cards close to the vest, her narrator Josie is a na