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3.31  ·  Rating details ·  380 ratings  ·  67 reviews
The closer she gets to the truth, the faster it slips away.

Heike Lerner’s life looks perfect from the outside: she’s settled into an easy routine of caring for her young son, Daniel, and spends her days wandering the woods near their summer house, while her nights are filled with clinking glasses and charming conversation. It all helps to keep her mind at ease—or at least
ebook, 432 pages
Published March 6th 2018 by HarperCollins Publishers
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Average rating 3.31  · 
Rating details
 ·  380 ratings  ·  67 reviews

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Jun 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those that like it subtle
Recommended to Jaidee by: read a review in the newspaper
4.5 "unusual, menacing, stylish" stars !!!

2018 Honorable Mention Read.

This is a slow burn that gets under your skin and seeps into your subconscious. Ms. de Mariaffi has written a very fine work that straddles the space between literary fiction, subtle horror and psychological suspense. We never know what is neurosis, what is sadism and what might be supernatural. This is not a book that makes your heart race but rather you hold your breath and shiver.

Heike's boy-child goes missing, yet she st
Apr 21, 2018 rated it liked it
This is one of those books with an underlying "creepy" feeling. What's real, what's not? Is something about to jump out and spook our main character and me the reader? The book definitely had me feeling on edge.
This book is about Heike and her life with her husband Eric and son Daniel. They have taken up a cottage for the summer, which sounds idyllic, but Heike starts noticing that things feel off and not right and then her son disappears..... From then of course, it is about finding Da
Mar 17, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canlit
Hysteria: A Novel starts off kind of promising and new… reminded me of a cross between that Angelina Jolie movie Changeling and Sophie's World. But then it quickly dissolved into… aptly… a 400 pages of hysterics. And not the innovative, mind-bending kind. The whole premise of the novel is that Heike has lost her son. He’s not necessarily dead, just missing. This becomes drilled into your brain because she spends the entire book screaming his name. It was almost headache-inducing at times. It’s d ...more
Catherine Coles
Set in 1950s upstate New York, HYSTERIA follows Heike, a young mother with a muddled history. Under a haze of medication administered by her controlling doctor husband, she begins to witness strange happenings at an abandoned cabin near their summer home. The events escalate with her son disappearing one night while she is at a party. This haunting genre-bending novel has definite Hitchcock vibes and a satisfying ending, but it was a bit slow going and convoluted. I almost quit halfway through, ...more
Peter Darbyshire
Apr 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It’s almost impossible to describe Hysteria by Elisabeth de Mariaffi, for it moves not only through a wide range of genres but also beyond their limits, into strange and uncharted literary terrain. Domestic thrillers, psychological thrillers, fairy tales, ghost stories, historical fiction, detective stories – they’re all present in Hysteria in one form or another. But they’re also transformed into something else, a narrative of resistance for a world gone mad, for a world that has perhaps always ...more
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
Despite the positive reviews this book received I did not like it.
I found it difficult to relate to because the characters didn't seem complete. A conversation would take place and end rather abruptly. It was meant to be bizarre and puzzling, but it just didn't cut it with me. Nothing was ever explained thoroughly.
I predicted partway through the major 'surprise' in the story. But it wasn't a satisfying ending for me.
Too often Heike, the MC was imagining sounds, animals, people, etc. It got to
Andrea MacPherson
May 29, 2018 rated it liked it
de Mariaffi’s writing is solid, and she’s good at creating a distinct atmosphere. However, I knew waaaaaay too early on what the “mystery” would be, and some of the characters felt too one-dimensional. A few sub-plots didn’t pan out in a satisfying way.
Anne Logan
Mar 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
My Canadian readers will probably be familiar with this latest can-lit thriller: Hysteria by Elisabeth de Mariaffi. It’s just come out, and it’s getting a hysterical amount of press (obviously I had to use that adjective somewhere in this review, but I promise I won’t do it again). Is this book a page-turner? Yes. Is Mariaffi a good writer? Yes definitely. Did I guess the ending shortly after the book began? Unfortunately, yes. But even though I anticipated the twist almost immediately, I still ...more
Maggie Burton
Mar 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Elisabeth de Mariaffi’s novel Hysteria is a psychological thriller that defies its own genre in the same way that her characters defy their own realities. The story begins with an exciting but tragic escape from Nazi Germany through the woods where Heike Lerner, our protagonist, is a teenage girl with a seven year old sister in tow. Heike wakes up one morning and her sister is gone, and despite her best efforts she can’t find her. As she moves through the countryside, exhausted she crawls into a ...more
Melissa Harris
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
Having received an advanced copy, I didn’t have the opportunity to read reviews or spoilers, and had read only a brief description of the book. But knowing it was a psychological thriller and having read (and enjoyed) the author’s previous novel, The Devil You Know, I figured I would enjoy this read. It was a good thing I chose to start reading this over a long weekend because once I started, I could hardly put it down; it was gripping and suspenseful. There were a few predictable parts, but for ...more
Aug 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
I didn't like the way this was written at all - the language didn't flow. I found it a bit easier to read at the end - it made more sense at that time but the beginning was hard to follow and hard to get into. Overall - the plot is great and the 'twist' is very interesting but its the writing that resulted in the low review score.
Dec 11, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Hysteria, Elisabeth de Mariaffi explores the issue of memory repressed and even altered with psychotropic drugs. It is 1956 and Heike Lerner is living in a quiet rural setting in upstate New York with her husband Eric and son Daniel. Eric is a doctor, a researcher whose areas of expertise are the mind and the development of new drugs and treatments for mental disorders. Heike’s past is tragic and traumatic: a German refugee who as a child narrowly escaped the fire-bombing of Dresden by walkin ...more
Sara Hillis
Oct 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A great psychological suspense thriller from a thoughtful and meticulous Canadian author! If you like books like Shudder Island, and if you love TV shows like The Twilight Zone, especially if you love The Twilight Zone, you'll really love this book. As the book says: "All the best stories start with a girl alone in the woods." The 1950s are evoked with startling clarity and thust me, these are not the 50s of Ward and June Cleaver. There's something off from the very start of the book, something ...more
Mar 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I had to keep taking breaks from this book because the anxiety it induced in me was so high. Elisabeth de Mariaffi is simply one of the best writers there is. Problem is I gobble up her books in a day and then have to wait for the next!

In Hysteria, we don't know what's real, and what is imagined; what's dangerous and what's just "nerves"; who is safe and who isn't. All is eventually made clear, but not before the reader starts to doubt his/her own mind. A terrific thriller. As with de Mariaffi'
Jun 04, 2019 rated it did not like it
The first chapter was good. The next chapter was not coherent. The character's thoughts wee were disjointed as were the background descriptions. If this had been a movie I would have felt sea sick from the bad camera work.
Mar 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was very lucky to be selected to get an early readers copy of this book.
I was completely hooked from the beginning until the end. The author created so many layers of this story that blended together so perfectly. While reading this book I could completely feel the tension and total power struggle that the main character , Heike, felt during the beginning of this story. I loved reading the development of this character — her struggles , fears, memories and truth that she adopts throughout her
Mar 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book blew my mind. I loved Heike - a badass from page one. There was a Hitchcock feel woven throughout. Taut, creepy, socially relevant - a great read cover to cover. I read it in a matter of days because I had to find out how it ended.
May 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
3.5 While this book had a creepy supernatural feel about it it never really came together in the end for me. It felt like a psychological thriller but became obvious where it was headed. It still had me turning pages at time but got off to a slow start.
Doug Lewars
Jun 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
*** Possible Spoilers ***

I couldn't bring myself to knock this all the way down to a 3 but it is well below being a 4. Still, some number of stars are required so there you have it.

Mental illness? Delusions? Hallucinations? Ghosts? A controlling sadistic husband? A missing child? A hysterical wife? A secret research project? It’s all here. The author is attempting to convey to the reader a sense of unreality – of how the protagonist cannot differentiate from delusion to reality to false memory.
May 04, 2018 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 20, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: readers-advisory
I didn't like this book. I hated the writing style (come on just use quotation marks to indicate speech for Christ's sake). It tried to be too many things: creepy, poetic, deep, mysterious and thrilling. Instead it felt long-winded, slow paced and predictable. The twist was no twist. I would call this a poor man's Shutter Island .

It was nominated for an Evergreen award this year and although I don't always enjoy the books nominated I generally understand that it is just personal taste and not
Jul 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
Not a book I would normally pick up, based on the blurbs and reviews, but was compelled to read because I am screening books for a club. I did not find it "compelling" or "laced with evil and mystery" as Lawrence Hill suggests. Creepy, yes. I guess just not my genre. I ended up skimming large sections of it as it seemed over-written. Perhaps if I had had a few drinks and a lot of time I would have let myself "into" it more. And am weary of unreliable narrators (Gone Girl, Girl on the Train etc e ...more
Aparna Shah
Oct 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a book that I thoroughly enjoyed. It is spooky, with surprising twists and turns, utterly unpredictable, and an absolute page-turner. It is a feminist novel that deals with motherhood, the treatment and attitude towards women, not just of society at large but of the protagonist Heike's own husband who uses her as a guinea pig for medical experiments and for his own fame and glory. The language that de Mariaffi uses, especially when describing sounds (which are very important in the work) ...more
Peter Von
Sep 19, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: crime-fiction
Stock characters and a derivative plot, you've seen it all before. I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I saw the ending telegraphed very early on. How on earth did this book garner so much praise? That's 2 and a half weeks of good summer reading time I'll never get back.
Jul 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Hysteria is a superbly written contemporary novel that flirts equally with the genre of thriller, and literary novel, both.
De Mariaffi hooks the reader through a strong sense of character, and the subtle hint that something is superbly wrong, something that both the reader and central characters have no idea just what that is. In this way, the novel sometimes reminded me of newer thriller films like A Cure For Wellness, especially in the early going of the novel. However, this book's layers con
Apr 27, 2020 rated it liked it
This is a tense, intimate book - and, unfortunately, not always in the best way. The writing is strong, but also has an odd cadence that makes it hard (at least for me) for the reader to really get lost in the story. The whole thing is told from Heike's perspective, and feels like a camera angle filled only with her face. No real view or understanding of the surroundings and other characters as they truly are, only her reaction towards them. It's effectively creepy in some scenes, but quickly be ...more
Mar 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book. Who wouldn't love a book that includes the lines 'All the best stories start with a girl alone in the woods' and '...when Eric's attention had moved from sweet talk to something heavy, a hand on the back of her neck...' ? The book opens in 1945 with teen-aged Heike escaping from war-torn Germany. It then skips ahead to America in the mid-50's. Heike is spending the summer in the Finger Lakes district of upstate New York with her young son and her psychiatrist husban ...more
May 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
The second book by Elizabeth de Mariafi, that I’ve read and I believe she is currently one of Canada’s best writer of psychological thrillers. The first, The Devil You Know was a ‘can’t put it down’ creepy page turner. That story is about a young journalist covering the all too real Bernardo murders while still dealing with the unsolved murder of her childhood best friend.
Without giving away any specifics, Heike, the protagonist in Hysteria, is also haunted by a unresolved childhood loss - her
Katelyn McIntyre
Mar 04, 2018 rated it really liked it

I was one of the chosen lucky readers who got to recieve an advanced copy of Hysteria. I had a brief description of the book and dived into it. I would give Hysteria a 4/5 stars. It started off slow but was well worth it. I enjoyed the story telling the author brought to life. She made me feel emotions for the characters. It was a fresh read & didn’t remind me of something I have read before. It had enough suspense to keep me guessing with a satisfying ending. If you enjoy psychological thriller
Randine Rochelle
Apr 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
5 stars

If you think you have problems, you should meet Heike Lerner. A harrowing escape from Nazi Germany (this is not a spoiler, the book opens with this), a controlling husband (to say the least), psychiatric illness? Being haunted by ghosts? We aren't exactly sure what is happening here but we get the sense immediately that something sinister is lurking beneath the surface of her ideal cottage existence.


Playing with her son in the water, she sings a little song to him:
Hoppe Hoppe R
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Elisabeth de Mariaffi is the author of a new collection of short stories, How To Get Along With Women (Invisible Publishing, 2012).

Her poetry and short fiction have been widely published in magazines across Canada, and she's one of the wild minds behind the highly original Toronto Poetry Vendors, a small press that sells single poems by established Canadian poets through toonie vending machines.

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