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The Book of Love
Cover of The Book of Love
The Book of Love
A Novel
In the long-awaited first novel from short story virtuoso and Pulitzer Prize finalist Kelly Link, three teenagers become pawns in a supernatural power struggle.
“A heart-wrenching exploration of love and loss.”—Time


“[Link’s] pages sing with her trademark fantastical and emotional tropes.”—Los Angeles Times

The Book of Love showcases Kelly Link at the height of her powers, channeling potent magic and attuned to all varieties of love—from friendship to romance to abiding family ties—with her trademark compassion, wit, and literary derring-do. Readers will find joy (and a little terror) and an affirmation that love goes on, even when we cannot.
Late one night, Laura, Daniel, and Mo find themselves beneath the fluorescent lights of a high school classroom, almost a year after disappearing from their hometown, the small seaside community of Lovesend, Massachusetts, having long been presumed dead. Which, in fact, they are.
With them in the room is their previously unremarkable high school music teacher, who seems to know something about their disappearance—and what has brought them back again. Desperate to reclaim their lives, the three agree to the terms of the bargain their music teacher proposes. They will be given a series of magical tasks; while they undertake them, they may return to their families and friends, but they can tell no one where they’ve been. In the end, there will be winners and there will be losers.
But their resurrection has attracted the notice of other supernatural figures, all with their own agendas. As Laura, Daniel, and Mo grapple with the pieces of the lives they left behind, and Laura’s sister, Susannah, attempts to reconcile what she remembers with what she fears, these mysterious others begin to arrive, engulfing their community in danger and chaos, and it becomes imperative that the teens solve the mystery of their deaths to avert a looming disaster.
Welcome to Kelly Link’s incomparable Lovesend, where you’ll encounter love and loss, laughter and dread, magic and karaoke, and some really good pizza.
In the long-awaited first novel from short story virtuoso and Pulitzer Prize finalist Kelly Link, three teenagers become pawns in a supernatural power struggle.
“A heart-wrenching exploration of love and loss.”—Time


“[Link’s] pages sing with her trademark fantastical and emotional tropes.”—Los Angeles Times

The Book of Love showcases Kelly Link at the height of her powers, channeling potent magic and attuned to all varieties of love—from friendship to romance to abiding family ties—with her trademark compassion, wit, and literary derring-do. Readers will find joy (and a little terror) and an affirmation that love goes on, even when we cannot.
Late one night, Laura, Daniel, and Mo find themselves beneath the fluorescent lights of a high school classroom, almost a year after disappearing from their hometown, the small seaside community of Lovesend, Massachusetts, having long been presumed dead. Which, in fact, they are.
With them in the room is their previously unremarkable high school music teacher, who seems to know something about their disappearance—and what has brought them back again. Desperate to reclaim their lives, the three agree to the terms of the bargain their music teacher proposes. They will be given a series of magical tasks; while they undertake them, they may return to their families and friends, but they can tell no one where they’ve been. In the end, there will be winners and there will be losers.
But their resurrection has attracted the notice of other supernatural figures, all with their own agendas. As Laura, Daniel, and Mo grapple with the pieces of the lives they left behind, and Laura’s sister, Susannah, attempts to reconcile what she remembers with what she fears, these mysterious others begin to arrive, engulfing their community in danger and chaos, and it becomes imperative that the teens solve the mystery of their deaths to avert a looming disaster.
Welcome to Kelly Link’s incomparable Lovesend, where you’ll encounter love and loss, laughter and dread, magic and karaoke, and some really good pizza.
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  • From the cover The Book of Susannah


    A girl wakes up in her sister’s bed. “Laura?” she says. No one answers.

    Oh, she shouldn’t be here. The one who should be here isn’t.

    The girl’s name is Susannah. She is too tall, lamentably tall, and she has bad dreams. Shouldn’t her dreams be comforting? Restorative? Shouldn’t she see the ones she longs with all her heart to see? But in dreams, too, they are inexplicably missing.

    The sheets are half off the bed as if someone has been yanking them. It isn’t morning yet. It’s the middle of the night. Everything is in the wrong place, except it isn’t. Her mother, Ruth, isn’t home yet. All those NICU babies with their complicated medical needs, their rashy bottoms and feeding tubes, suffused in ultraviolet light, parents slumped in blistered Naugahyde recliners, nurses murmuring in corners about the bid to unionize, about husbands and television shows and their own children. Do they fall silent when Susannah’s mother comes close?

    “I’m tired of this,” the girl says to the moon in the window, because no one else is there to talk to. “Not knowing. Being in the dark. Being alone in the dark. Don’t you ever get tired of it?”

    The moon is full. Isn’t this proof of something? That things can disappear and then come back again? Eleven months since whatever happened happened, and Susannah knows Laura isn’t coming back. If she did come back, she’d say, What the hell are you doing in my bed, Susannah? Oh my God.

    Susannah can almost hear her say it. She gets up and makes the bed the way Laura would, because Laura isn’t here to do the things that Laura ought to do. To keep Susannah from doing the things Susannah shouldn’t do. All of Laura’s stuffed animals are on the floor. The sky-blue owl and the pangolin in its gingham dress. Everyone loved Laura best. Everyone misses Laura. The threadbare dog with the sewn-up place where the button eye should be has a secret name. Laura would never tell Susannah what she called it. Its name was probably something stupid, though. No one ever keeps a good secret. And now no one knows except for the dog.

    Susannah picks up Laura’s things and puts them down again. Laura isn’t here to tell her not to. So she conjures Laura up in her head. Don’t worry, Laura. It’s easy to put little things back where they belong. The little circles and marks in the dust on the shelves show where each right place is. If Susannah puts each of Laura’s things back exactly where it ought to be, then everything will go back to the way it should be.

    The china shepherdess that was their grandmother’s. (Susannah has a silver ring. Missing all but one of its seed pearls.) Pictures of Laura and Susannah and their mother. Pictures of Laura and Susannah and Daniel on stage. Laura’s romance novels, alphabetically arranged. Her favorite writer was Caitlynn Hightower. The covers of the romance novels, meant to indicate that the attractive people on them will eventually have sex. Fall inextricably in love, which in these books neither lessens nor changes but instead hardens, trapping those who inhabit it as amber preserves the insect. Wistful symphonic music (“Lara’s Theme.” Céline Dion. That kind of thing.) will begin to swell appropriately while these attractive and imaginary people f***. Perhaps on a horse! Behind a tapestry. On a boat. On a hill. In the past. Hail fellow kismet. Everything in the right place. Very knock-knock joke. Knock knock. Who’s there? Does it...
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from December 18, 2023
    Pulitzer finalist Link (White Cat, Black Dog) makes a dazzling full-length debut that proves her gloriously idiosyncratic style shines just as brightly at scale. A year after high schoolers Laura, Daniel, and Mo died, they’re brought back to life (alongside one other, much older ghost) by their band teacher, Mr. Anabin, the unlikely possessor of powerful magic. He and his counterpart, Bogomil, who held the quartet captive in the dark realm of death, decide to play a game. The winners will stay alive; the losers will die once more. To succeed, the teens must learn magic and remember the murky circumstances of their own deaths, all while navigating fraught relationships with loved ones, especially Laura’s temperamental sister, Susannah. For much of the plot, the protagonists are batted about by supernatural forces far larger than themselves, including Anabin, Bogomil, and the glamorous, enigmatic Mallo Mogge. In less capable hands, the amount of uncertainty both characters and readers must endure before answers are revealed might grow frustrating, but Link makes the slow trickle of information both tense and tantalizing. Striking visuals and nimble characterization are delivered with poetry, wry humor, and a remarkable clarity of detail. (Susannah “was a new bruise. The world was always pressing on her”; Laura “was practically a gothic piñata stuffed with bone shards, dead rabbits, secrets so secret not even she understood them.”) Link dexterously somersaults between tonal registers—from playfully whimsical (love and magic are both explained via a comparison to asparagus) to hair-raising and uncanny (a cat goes from grooming itself to devouring itself whole)—without ever missing a step. This is a masterpiece.

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The Book of Love
The Book of Love
A Novel
Kelly Link
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