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The Barter: A Novel

The Barter by Siobhan Adcock

Praise for The Barter:

"Siobhan Adcock takes a very contemporary question—can women ever really 'have it all' or are trade-offs invariably exacted?—and examines it through the startling prism of a ghost story. The Barter casts a lively eye on the sacrifices, willing and involuntary, women make as they endeavor to weave together their heart's various desires."—Leah Hager Cohen, author of No Book But the World


"What begins as a new mother's joys and fears turns quickly into two riveting and interlocking stories that span the ages. Part ghost story, part love story, The Barter is a haunting and enthralling debut."—Jennifer Gilmore, author of Something Red and The Mothers


"Reading The Barter is like standing at the edge of an abyss; deep, dark, and terrifying; it is also a gripping and exhilarating story about fear, courage, and the demands and sacrifices of love. An enthralling page-turner of a novel that had me on the edge of my seat from the first page and continued to haunt me after the last."—Catherine Chung, author of Forgotten Country


"Absolutely astounding. The Barter is a ghost story haunted by love, a love story haunted by ghosts, and a literary mystery propelled by the unsaid secrets of marriage and motherhood. In Adcock’s world, you won’t know whether it’s fear, love, or outright beauty making your heart beat like a drum. You won’t know, and you won’t care at all. You’ll just have to keep reading."—Patrick Somerville, author of This Bright River and The Cradle


"Siobhan Adcock manages to express what is inexpressible about motherhood and marriage, deftly capturing the banal and the divine, the give and the take. As funny, profound, otherworldly, and terrifying as love itself, this is a debut novel not to be missed."—Amy Shearn, author of The Mermaid of Brooklyn and How Far Is the Ocean from Here


"Siobhan Adcock's impressive debut is a spellbinding blend of historical fiction and ghost story, made all the more believable—and harrowing—by its realistic depiction of the tenuous balance between fulfillment and sacrifice within a marriage."—Jennifer Chiaverini, author of Mrs. Lincoln's Rival


Reviews of The Barter:

"Adcock makes excellent sport of the culture of modern middle-class parenting. We see [Bridget] measuring her old, trivial anxieties against this huge new thing, this fear, as she begins to realize that what you’re afraid of is part of who you are. The Barter is a thoughtful and surprisingly witty novel. It weighs its horrors precisely. And that's a crucial quality in this genre: Horror works best when it's about things that are actually worth being afraid of."—The New York Times Book Review


"Siobhan Adcock's creepy debut, The Barter, is a good, old-fashioned ghost story that will make you jump when your walls creak. But it’s really about motherhood—the fierce love and the plaguing ambivalence. Looking closely at the uncertainties women wade through when their roles change, Adcock plumbs marital discord and the ways fear and self-doubt manifest in families.…Her thoughtful story will keep readers reflecting on its themes once the shivers have passed."—BookPage


"Adcock’s debut novel is both a psychological thriller (tiptoeing with grace into fantasy) and a thought-provoking commentary on being a woman, a wife, and a mother. The Barter alternates between two equally fascinating protagonists — Bridget, who, after sacrificing her career for the tedium of contemporary parenthood, is haunted by a ghost, and Rebecca, who is, more than a century earlier, similarly struggling with female identity. It’s rare that a book inspires me as both a writer and a reader, and The Barter did just that, while exploring, with refreshing honesty, the internal and external demands that women continue to face. At different points in the novel, and hundreds of years between, both Bridget and Rebecca struggle with the pressure to conform as wives and mothers. They ask themselves a question that has at times echoed through my mind as well: “Oh God, this can’t be me. Who am I?"—Julia Fierro, The Millions


“A suspenseful and thrilling ghost story about two women, separated by 100 years, who are bound by a haunting secret coined from the obscurities of motherhood and marriage. You won’t be able to put this haunting love story down and you might even be afraid of the dark after this chilling read."—Buzzfeed


"With lush language that provides contrast to the gripping plot, Adcock’s debut novel weaves two tragic love stories into one tense and provocative tale.”—Working Mother, "12 Great Fall Reads for Workmoms"


“Haunting...You'll slow down through the gorgeous language, but speed up to find out what happens in the explosive, fast-paced plot.”—


“As The Barter alternates between the two women's stories, their connection slowly becomes clear...Like a specter, their pain is formless, impossible to pin down—appearing to come from everywhere and nowhere at once. But as the women learn, happiness can also be mysterious, and even love can sometimes be disguised as a threat."—Shelf Awareness


“Eerie and atmospheric, this psychological thriller will twist its way into readers’ psyches.”—Booklist


"Motherhood is the destabilizing bond that nearly undoes two women linked across a century in Adcock’s suspenseful debut...Adcock builds tension with the ghost's periodic visitations, but the novel's real concern lies in the more mundane but no less weighty issue of how fear and self-doubt can corrode marriages and families."—Publishers Weekly


"A ghost, hungry for a love she was too proud to seize, haunts a young mother...Skillfully interweaves the stories of Bridget and Rebecca, two women a century apart bound by the sacrifices inherent to marriage and motherhood."—Kirkus Reviews

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