Eutopia: A Novel of Terrible Optimism

ISBN: 9781926851112
eISBN: 9781926851945

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The year is 1911.

In Cold Spring Harbour, New York, the newly formed Eugenics Records Office is sending its agents to catalogue the infirm, the insane, and the criminal—with an eye to a cull, for the betterment of all.

Near Cracked Wheel, Montana, a terrible illness leaves Jason Thistledown an orphan, stranded in his dead mother’s cabin until the spring thaw shows him the true meaning of devastation—and the barest thread of hope.

At the edge of the utopian mill town of Eliada, Idaho, Doctor Andrew Waggoner faces a Klansman’s noose and glimpses wonder in the twisting face of the patient known only as Mister Juke.

And deep in a mountain lake overlooking that town, something stirs, and thinks, in its way:

Things are looking up.

Eutopia follows Jason and Andrew as together and alone, they delve into the secrets of Eliada—industrialist Garrison Harper's attempt to incubate a perfect community on the edge of the dark woods and mountains of northern Idaho. What they find reveals the true, terrible cost of perfection—the cruelty of the surgeon's knife—the folly of the cull—and a monstrous pact with beings that use perfection as a weapon, and faith as a trap.

Reviews of Eutopia: A Novel of Terrible Optimism:

Nickle's bleak debut novel mixes utopian vision, rustic Americana, and pure creepiness.
Toronto author David Nickle's debut novel, the followup to his brilliantly wicked collection of horror stories Monstrous Affections, establishes him as a worthy heir to the mantle of Stephen King.
[A]n excellent novel
A great historical horror novel that will make you think long into the night.
A dark, complicated and frequently harrowing read . . . . Eutopia is a compelling exploration of the horror of good intentions.
——Locus Magazine
It's straight-faced, laconic, and quite brilliant.
The New York Review of Science Fiction
Nickle does Lovecraftian horror better than Lovecraft ever did. The world of Eutopia is harsh, fecund, virulent and uncaring.
Eutopia sucked me right in. The writing in this book is exquisite, perfectly suited to its setting and characters . . . . This is just all-around great work, and I look forward to reading more of Nickle’s work in the future.
[Eutopia] is immensely readable: a quick-paced mountain stream of a novel, cool and sharp and intense, and terrifically adept at drawing a reader in . . . . Eutopia accomplishes what the best horror fiction strives for: gives us characters we can care about and hope for, and then inflicts on them the kind of realistic, inescapable, logical sufferings that make us close our eyes a little at the unfairness of not the author, but the world—and all the while with something more to say for itself than the world is a very bad place. Thoughtful, accomplished, and recommended.
Eutopia is the kind of book I'd recommend to literary snobs who badmouth the horror genre while completely ignoring the multitudes of splendid books on the shelves. Nickle comes from a different cut of cloth than a lot of current horror authors. He’s created a unique world that’s a far cry from any of the current trends in horror fiction. In fact, his style seems generations removed from all the apocalyptic zombie and vampire novels on the market. Thankfully, he understands that the most important ingredients are strong characters, originality, and a compelling story. That his novel is also dark, frightening, and beautifully written is just icing on the cake.
I'm not the best judge of horror, but I’ve read Lovecraft, Poe, King, and good writing is good writing. Good writing carries over to a book regardless of genre. And there’s plenty of good writing in David Nickle’s Eutopia.
This novel is seriously creepy.

Other Reviews

goodreads 3.31/5 stars more...


Author Info

David Nickle portrait

David Nickle is a Toronto-based author and journalist whose fiction has appeared in magazines and anthologies like Cemetery Dance, The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, the Northern Frights series and the Queer Fear series. Some of it has been collected in his book of stories, Monstrous Affections. His first solo novel, Eutopia: A Novel of Terrible Optimism, led the National Post to call him “a worthy heir to the mantle of Stephen King.” His most recent novel, Rasputin's Bastards, was called supernatural eeriness at its best. He also works as a reporter, covering Toronto municipal politics for a chain of community newspapers.