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The Nesting

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The woods are creeping in on a nanny and two young girls in this chilling modern Gothic thriller.

Architect Tom Faraday is determined to finish the high-concept, environmentally friendly home he's building in Norway – in the same place where he lost his wife, Aurelia, to suicide. It was their dream house, and he wants to honor her with it.

Lexi Ellis takes a job as his nanny and immediately falls in love with his two young daughters, especially Gaia. But something feels off in the isolated house nestled in the forest along the fjord. Lexi sees mysterious muddy footprints inside the home. Aurelia's diary appears in Lexi's room one day. And Gaia keeps telling her about seeing the terrifying Sad Lady…

Soon Lexi suspects that Aurelia didn't kill herself and that they are all in danger from something far more sinister lurking around them.

403 pages, Hardcover

First published September 29, 2020

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About the author

C.J. Cooke

7 books824 followers
C. J. Cooke is an award-winning poet and novelist published in twenty-three languages. She teaches creative writing at the University of Glasgow, where she also researches the impact of motherhood on women's writing and creative writing interventions for mental health.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 884 reviews
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,206 reviews40.9k followers
September 27, 2021
Nordic folktales dances with gothic, claustrophobic vibes and waltzes with ghost stories. It’s a gripping, riveting, fast-pacing, astonishing page-turner even though it had some small plot holes and the beginning of the story has resemblances with Ruth Ware’s “Turn of the key”
The story starts Aurelia’s dying: we are in the dark and we are still not sure if she took her own life or somebody killed her.

And then at the next chapter: we witness a suicide attempt of Lexi: who is our other broken, fragile, traumatized protagonist .Thankfully she’s saved by her friend. But after living the hospital and going back to the house she’s shared with her 8 years long asshole boyfriend who kicks her out penniless, she finds herself in a train, using the asshole’s train card and witnessing a talk with two women about a job opportunity. She always wants to write a novel takes place in Norway because of her own ancestors. (She still doesn’t know the identity of her father but she still thinks she’s connected with Nordic culture) and surprisingly, too much coincidentally these two women talk about a job opportunity in a mansion located in Norway.

The woman called Sophie shows her friend her resume and she is too close to click the send button to apply for “nanny” job. But her friend begs her not to apply and help her throughout her pregnancy process with doubled fee. Sophie says “yes and in the meantime Lexi murmurs: “Yes”, then as soon as two women walk away and ask her to watch out their computers, she cannot believe in her luck, copy the resume and apply the job with a different email address by stealing Sophie’s identity.

I know the beginning of the story is too coincidental and reminding you Rowan’s character who steals identity of her friend to be accepted for the job. But don’t worry. After the beginning there are not any resemblances. First of all: Lexi is easy to empathize and her characterization has more emotional depth. And thankfully she is not working for pretentious, smug society couple but she takes a job from grieving widow Tom to take care of her angelic little daughter: Gaia and Coco.

The story’s progression differs from “Turning of the key” as soon as Lexi flies to Norway and starts her job to share the house with Tom, kids and the caregiver Maden who was loyal employee of deceased wife. Tom’s partner Clive and his hyperactive, exaggeratedly spiritual wife Derry welcomes her at the airport.

At the beginning everything seems normal. Lexi tries so hard to adapt her role and decipher the enigmatic chores she’s dictated to help the children’s education. But she secretly awards elder daughter Gaia with Netflix time and little Coco with non-vegan treats. Her genuineness and friendly manners earn the hearts of the poor kids as Tom is mostly out of the picture, obsessed to finish the house dedicated to the memory of his beloved wife, working too much and getting more aggressive, obnoxious.

But as we start to read Aurelia and Tom’s narrations with flashbacks: we start to understand, their passion to build a dream house against the will of the nature ends with poisoning the animals and destruction which conflicts with the environmentalist opinions of Tom. It seems like nature wants its payback! And in the present time so many supernatural events start to be seen at the construction site.

In the meantime little Gaia suffers from nigh terrors and talks about a “Sad Lady” who reminds us Nordic version of Grudge’s Samara with her wet, hairy and scary presence! Interestingly also Aurelia sees the woman and she thinks she thinks her hormonal changes created her. Lexi also sees her but she thinks the sad lady is side effect of her depression. And finally Tom sees her but he thinks he’s suffering from sleep-deprivation.

And finally Lexi finds Aurelia’s diary in her room. Somebody left there. Who? And if the things are written were true, Tom might be the killer of her own wife. Could Tom be a cold blooded killer?

Our other questions are: So who is the sad lady? Did Aurelia really see those creatures belonged to the Nordic culture? Was Aurelia demented or was she telling the truth? Did she kill herself or somebody end her life?

Overall: I liked sarcastic, twisty, smart writing style and humorously witty depictions of the author. I enjoyed the characters and ending. Only things bugged me were the way of Lexi’s applying job (yes. Too good to be true, extra coincidental) and too many POVS distracted the main focus of the story. We started with Lexi’s story but till the last pages we didn’t know why she was suicidal and only in few pages her past was told haphazardly. Maybe the flashbacks parts could be shorter which affected the pacing and tension of the story. And I have second thoughts about reading the POV of Tom because it doesn’t contribute much depth to the story.

I went back and forth between 3 and 4 stars because of plot-holes but I adored the writing and some parts of the book are truly scary and entertaining so I decided to give 4 well deserved stars and added the previous works of the author to my scary monster TBR.

Special thanks to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing for sharing this gripping ARC with me in exchange my honest review.
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,443 reviews78.1k followers
September 14, 2020
What a solid gothic thriller! No one is more surprised that I am that a book which initially felt like a The Turn of the Key copycat became so much more. Please note going in, that you will need to suspend your disbelief and take this story for what it is: a supernatural (ish) gothic mystery with some heavy handed plot holes that comes out shining at the end.

Lexi has unsuccessfully attempted suicide, and finds herself alarmingly alone in the beginning of this book. Her boyfriend of 8 years turns his back on her, and as she boards a train in hopes of figuring out her next step in life, she overhears a conversation that she subsequently turns in her favor. What follows is a two-fold story, past and present, informing the reader of what caused Tom the architect to need a nanny for his 2 children and Lexi's journey as said nanny.

The atmosphere and slow building dread in this novel is superb; it's no secret that I love a good nordic crime fiction novel, and CJ Cooke's The Nesting checked every need that I have when it comes to a spooky tale. I found the characters to actually be much more relatable in this novel than in the comparable Ruth Ware, and I also found the ending to be much more compelling, although that is due to the fact that I have no qualms mixing the natural and the paranormal in my mysteries. If you are on the hunt for a chilling read in October, The Nesting is perfectly compulsive and gratuitously satisfying. Highly recommended!


*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my review copy.
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,543 reviews9,860 followers
May 26, 2023

As our story begins, Lexi, is at rock bottom. While her life has never been easy, at the story-opener, she has days where, truth be told, she would rather not be alive.

After her long-term relationship ends and her best friend tells her that she is too hard to deal with, Lexi knows she must find a way to make a new life for herself.

An opportunity arises while she is riding the train and overhears a conversation that piques her interest; concerning a potential new job and location.

Stealing a woman's identity, Lexi applies for the position discussed, as a nanny for a wealthy widower and his two young daughters. The best part is, the post is in the beautiful country of Norway.

She's astounded to learn that she has been hired on. Obviously, she's also nervous. It's a lot to pull off.

Lexi, now Sophie, knows absolutely nothing about home-schooling, infants, or any other general duties of being a nanny.

From the very first day, Sophie is quickly swept up into the lives of the other staff members, Derry, Clive and Maron; the two children, Gaia and Coco, and the handsome widower, Tom.

The house itself, is a drafty, historic home that the family resides in temporarily while Tom and Clive construct the main event: Aurelia's Nest.

As her days inside the house go on, Sophie begins to hear and see strange things.

She also starts to learn about Tom's deceased wife, Aurelia, and the days leading up to her apparent suicide.

Interspersed throughout the story, we do get some chapters told from Aurelia's perspective.

Sophie also stumbles across a diary that appears to be Aurelia's, so she gets a glimpse into her life as well, which causes Sophie to come to some startling conclusions regarding Tom and Aurelia's marriage.

I enjoyed my time with this novel. The beginning felt very An Anonymous Girl meets Turn of the Key, but once the narrative arrives in Norway, it really takes on a life of its own.

Cooke excels at setting the atmosphere; a perfect Autumnal read. This entire novel is dripping with a cold, dark, ominous feeling throughout.

Part ghost story, part domestic drama, part ecological horror story, there's also a lovely sprinkling of Norwegian folklore to sink your teeth into.

While I enjoyed many aspects of this story, I also felt like there were a few too many plot holes, as well as aspects that felt too much like other stories I have read recently.

However, with this being said, overall, this is a captivating book. I would absolutely read anything else C.J. Cooke writes. She definitely has a style I am interested in watching grow.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. As always, I greatly appreciate the opportunity to provide my opinion.

Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,608 reviews24.8k followers
September 1, 2020
CJ Cooke writes a hauntingly atmospheric novel with gothic overtones set amidst Norway's magnificent ancient forests and fjords, a location that serves as a central character in itself. The fragile and vulnerable Lexi Ellis is not in a good place, with a broken relationship behind her, she is suicidal, depressed and virtually homeless. Her desperation leads her to take on the identity and CV of another woman, Sophie Hallerton, for the purpose of securing the post of a nanny after she overhears a conversation. This has her travelling to a remote part of Norway to look after two lovely young children, Gaia and Coco, their mother, Aurelia, recently dead in mysterious circumstances, assumed to have committed suicide.

The widowed and grieving father is a well known architect, Tom, intent on constructing a home in the cliffs, like a nest encroaching on the environment, a dream of his and his late wife, Aurelia, a project that continuously runs into trouble, a previous house by the river was destroyed. His business partner, Clive, is married to Derry, and the odd housekeeper, Maren, was completely devoted to Aurelia. In the face of a series of strange events, and the 'sad lady', Lexi as Sophie is determined to do everything she can to protect the children. The chilling narrative shifts from the past with Aurelia and the present with Lexi, making the most of the stunning location, with local history, culture, the folklore and superstitions infused adroitly into the story.

Cooke's dark, spooky, twisted and ghostly novel provides the perfect reading material with the approaching Autumn and its shorter days, particularly with its elements of the supernatural. It positively drips with atmosphere, hinting of the darkest of fairytales, a diary, and of the breaking the laws of nature. The writing is vibrant and compulsive, with a growing sense of dread pervading the pages, touching on issues of mental health, grief, nature and the environment. A great read and wonderfully plotted Scand-thriller. Many thanks to HarperCollins for an ARC.
Profile Image for Gabby.
1,236 reviews26.7k followers
October 29, 2020
So fucking good! Definitely one of my favorite thrillers of the year - it has such Turn of the Key / The Haunting of Bly Manor vibes. I’m absolutely obsessed with this. All the imagery of the elk and the idea of this river really freaked me out and got to me. This is definitely the stuff of nightmares and I absolutely loved the tone of this book, and the writing is so captivating.

Here’s the vlog where I read this one: https://youtu.be/u0vZfAfq6EQ
Profile Image for Debra .
2,298 reviews35k followers
September 8, 2020
C.J. Cooke checked all the boxes and crossed them with a F (for Fjord, frightening, fantastic, etc.) is this Gothic tale set in a house on a cliff over a Norwegian Fjord! I love books where the location is very much a character in the book. The cliffs, the forest, the Fjords, the folklore, the the things that go bump in the night!

Lexi is down on her luck. She finds herself on the streets trying to pick up the pieces of her life. When she overhears a conversation about a Nanny position in Norway, her interest in piqued. Sophie, the woman who has applied for the job, is talked out of going for the interview and Lexi goes in her place. claiming to be Sophie. What could go wrong? This could be the fresh start she is looking for! Things have gone so wrong in her life lately. Wouldn't it be nice to be someone else for a change?

She is hired and finds herself whisked off to Norway to be the Nanny for two young girls, Gaia and Coco, whose Mother, Aurelia has recently committed suicide. Their widower father, Tom, has thrown himself into his work and Sophie/Lexi is left to care for the girls and this idyllic life soon becomes a nightmare. Sophie/Lexi begins hallucinating (or is she?), hearing noises and seeing "foot" prints in strange places.

Is the house haunted? Is the land haunted? Has someone messed with Mother nature? What happened to Tom's wife? What are the consequences when you do not respect the land?

This was a wonderful creepy, atmospheric and chilling book! It sucked me in, and I was glued to the pages of this compelling and mystical book. As the tale progressed, we are given both Lexi and Aurelia's stories through past and present storytelling. As we learn more about each woman, the tale becomes darker, more sinister and frightening. As the similarities begin to grow, both women's tales become more intriguing.

Gaia and Coco were adorable, Lexi/Sophie really grew on me, while other characters, such as Maren, made me go hmm and others were interesting, and I will not say more....

Big marks for atmosphere, chills and use of folklore!

Thank you to Berkley Publishing Group and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Julie .
4,031 reviews58.9k followers
January 16, 2021
The Nesting by C.J. Cooke is a 2020 HarperCollins publication.

Had potential, but missed the mark

Lexi Ellis, recovering from a suicide attempt, is desperate for work and a place to live. She manages to steal another woman’s identity- now using the name, 'Sophie', and lands a plum job as a nanny for two girls named Gaia and Coco. The girls’ mother died tragically, and their father is determined to complete the home they had begun building before her death.

Despite her inexperience, Lexi quickly adjusts to her new job and forges a bond with the girls. Things begin to go awry when the girls claim to have seen a ‘Sad Lady’ and the other staff members may have begun to suspect Lexi is not who she claims to be.

This book should have been an easy win for me. Unfortunately, it fell flat. I did enjoy the Norwegian folklore, but the execution is quite poor, in my opinion. The story employs some wonderful Gothic plot devices, but the characters are dull and without enough depth or emotions to pull me toward them in any way- good or bad- not to mention the incredibly improbable situations, that even I couldn’t let slide.

Overall, the folklore is the saving grace for this one. Everything else about it was a letdown.

2 stars
Profile Image for Oscar.
256 reviews93 followers
October 7, 2020
"Vile that the hornet nest should take the shape of a womb, she thinks. With a shudder she imagines a baby inside, its head lowered into the cone."

CJ Cooke's The Nesting isn't necessarily my kind of great story but still great nonetheless. This is my first take on the gothic horror trope and I could say it was such an experience reading this. Everything was just soooo... atmospheric. Imagine a family living in the wilderness in Norwegian woods and unexplainable things keep on happening in their home. It was fast faced and very gripping for most parts. As readers it tells us two storylines: Aurelia Faraday, the past, and Lexi Ellis, the present. Aurelia Faraday jumped off the cliff where the house is being built due to her being suicidal. Was she really suicidal or was there something sinister and vile been plaguing her?

"Even if you hear something down there, please stay out. "

I highly appreciate the inclusions of these Norwegian folklores/traditions into the story. This made the horror part more realistic, more horrifying. I couldn't sleep last night because I can't stop thinking about some of these things.

"It's the Sad Lady. She lives in our basement. And she doesn't have eyes, just holes."

For me for the first time, the horror outweighed the mystery in this. The mystery wasn't bad as a whole but a bit predictable. When the first piece of the puzzle was shown, it started to rearrange itself in my mind.
Profile Image for Ceecee.
1,979 reviews1,511 followers
September 8, 2021
Alexa is struggling with her mental health and is currently very down on her luck. She overhears a conversation about a nanny’s job in Norway and craftily manages to steal the job details and the identity of Sophie Hallerton, who is a nanny and applies for the job which to her astonishment she gets. She’s to work for architect Tom Faraday who is struggling in several ways. First of all he’s grieving the loss of his wife Aurelia who has recently died, secondly to look after his young daughters Gaia and Coco and thirdly to build a dramatic environmentally friendly cliffside house in Norway. The story is told Then by Aurelia and Now by Lexi who is posing as Sophie.

There’s a lot I enjoy in this chilling tale. The start most certainly makes you sit up and pay attention and want to figure it out. I love the Norwegian location and landscape which feels alive and adds a unique atmosphere. The premise, plot and characters are well thought out, I like the way it’s written, it’s clever, smart with injections of dark humour in the narrative. There are some scenes that are almost tragi-comic especially at the start and this contrasts starkly with the puzzling events in Norway. I love the folklore and superstitions and inclusion of Norwegian folk tales some of them send shivers down the spine but add an interesting dimension and an explanation of the occurrences. I especially like the legend of the nøkk , the water spirits. At times things become sinister, the ghostly elements raise the hairs on the back of your neck, with characters having intense dreams, hallucinations or visions which defy logical explanation which leads to a narrative chock full of atmosphere. There’s a thought provoking environmental aspect of a difficult build and what the author creates is like a war, a battle with Mother Nature who is in revolt. There are some other issues such as mental health and grief.

Whilst I enjoy the majority of the book there are times when the tempo dips, for example there is too much detail on the house build. The ending is a bit predictable but it is enjoyable.

With thanks to NetGalley and especially to HarperCollins, Harper Fiction for the much appreciated arc in return for an honest review.
Profile Image for Bridgett.
Author 20 books432 followers
September 29, 2020

A beautifully compelling tale of Gothic suspense and Nordic folklore from (new-to-me) author, C.J. Cooke, who has just earned her way onto my 'must-read' list.

Admittedly, after reading the first few chapters, I was struck by how much The Nesting reminded me of Ruth Ware's The Turn of the Key. It quickly evolved into something very different, however, making use of beautifully vivid prose and positively gorgeous descriptions of Norway...it's fjords, natural beauty, wildlife, culture, and even the aurora borealis. I felt as though I were there, seeing this stunning country with my own eyes.

The characters were expertly executed, all sympathetic to some degree. I particularly loved Dora. 🦅 Told from two perspectives, those of Lexi (aka Sophie), in the present, and Aurelia, about a year in the past, the story develops into a quite engrossing read.

This isn't typically my genre of choice, but I'm so glad I gave this novel a chance.

Is your interest piqued? If so, you can pick up your own copy of this lovely noir September 29, 2020.

**My sincere thanks to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing for my review copy.
Profile Image for EmBibliophile.
501 reviews1,165 followers
January 10, 2021
2.5 stars

The only thing I enjoyed about this book is the kinda gothic atmosphere, the setting, and the Norwegian folklore references. Otherwise I really didn’t think that there was anything “thrilling” about this book. There wasn’t anything really happening and I don’t think we even get any answers by the end. There were numerous plot holes!!! I don’t know, this just seemed so pointless? There were no twists, nothing shocking or scary. It was just really flat. Even after finishing it, I couldn’t tell if it was a ghost story, a gothic horror novel, or a domestic thriller? Was it a horror novel or a mystery and thriller one? I just don’t know where it fits. I loved the setting and the atmosphere but other than that nothing was holding my attention.
Profile Image for Beata.
736 reviews1,112 followers
September 28, 2020
The offering by Ms Cooke combines elememnts of Gothic novel, suspense and thriller all set in modern-day Norway, with references to Norwegian folklore.
Lexi Ellis, after at attempted suicide, manages by a trick to get a position of a nanny to two girls whose mother died in mysterious circumstances.
The story was quite engaging, and kudos to the reader, Ms Kala whose interpretation is truly good. Some moments were beyond my believability, however, I suppressed it in order to enjoy this book.
*Many thanks to CJ Cooke, HarperCollins Audio UK, and NetGalley for the audiobook in exchange for my honest review.*
Profile Image for Saswati.
406 reviews280 followers
July 24, 2021
I can't believe I wasted three days on this travesty.
There is absolutely nothing thrilling about this 'thriller'. There's no continuity, no suspense, no big reveal.. Honestly, the sheer number of plotholes in the book is mind-boggling. I almost dnf-ed this so many times, but stuck around thinking it would get better. I truly regret my decision (。>_<。)
Profile Image for Monica.
527 reviews163 followers
July 26, 2021
After a slower start, I really enjoyed this mysterious story set in Norway. The main character "Sophie" struggled in all areas: her work, personal life, family. She sees a strange opportunity to improve her situation and jumps on it.

This dark thriller has just the right amount of suspense and unpredictability to create a great story. I definitely enjoyed and would recommend!

*Thanks to NetGalley and publishers for this free book in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Diana | Book of Secrets.
782 reviews575 followers
September 30, 2020
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to review this book. THE NESTING is a Gothic mystery with Nordic folklore woven into the story, which sounds like something I'd love, but unfortunately it didn't work for me. The main character Lexi ends up as a nanny in Norway under false pretenses, with the false pretenses part being a weak plotline.

Was there a solid plot? Was this horror or mystery? I'm not sure about either question. The mother of the two girls Lexi is caring for died by suicide just months earlier. The father is building a home on a cliff in her honor. Weird occurrences start happening in the house, and Lexi finds the deceased woman's secret diary. What really happened to her?

There's also an environmental impact element to what's happening on the cliff, which I actually enjoyed, it's just the rest didn't make much sense. For me THE NESTING was drawn out and lacked real focus.
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
2,034 reviews1,424 followers
January 14, 2021
Lexi's life is falling apart. Her boyfriend has left her, her best friend has moved in to take her place alongside him, she has no home to call her own, and her depression is weighing heavily upon every decision she makes. A chance encounter and an overheard conversation could prove her salvation, however.

Despite owning no qualifications to do so, Lexi impersonates nanny Sophie and moves to Norway to enrol as caretaker for two motherless girls. Their father, and her new boss, is an award-winning architect and his esteemed position soon puts her in the impossible position of acting upon the secrets she believes she unearths. Her new abode, and her new role within it, are under threat and there are things that walk the corridors at night that are difficult to discern and yet are even more difficult to disprove.

I initially struggled with the first portion of this book as I felt events snowballed far too quickly. Once the setting was removed from England, however, I quickly settled into the story-line. This was helped along with the ever-increasing exposure to the Gothic elements that haunted Lexi and her young charges. I was unsure where truth lay and, despite feeling no terror whilst reading this, admired the suspense that dogged the events, throughout.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to the author, C.J. Cooke, and the publisher, Harper Collins, for this opportunity.
Profile Image for Samantha Downing.
Author 5 books4,878 followers
March 31, 2020
The Nesting is a gorgeous, atmospheric book that chilled me to the bone. The perfect escape book into the deep woods of Norway, where nothing is as it seems. C.J. Cooke just became one of my favorite authors.
Profile Image for Frank Phillips.
504 reviews253 followers
March 17, 2021
I enjoyed this second novel by C.J. Cooke, and wanted to give it a higher rating, however for me the execution at the ending fell somewhat flat. I will follow up by saying that I listened to this on audiobook while multitasking, so perhaps I missed something, I'm not sure. It just felt like it was going in one particular genre direction, which had me hooked, and then just stopped and another explanation was given at the end, which felt a bit rushed to me. As a matter of fact several of the storylines felt a bit rushed, and quickly explained away, which left me wanting more! Not to give anything away, but had there been some more detail and information about the 'Sad lady' (creepy as heck!) this could have been so much better, for me. I may indeed go back and reread this, as I own it in print, but had the ending not let me down this would have been a solid 4 Star gothic horror/thriller. Definite props for how atmospheric this was, and how flawed yet likeable our protagonist was. I'm sure I will have more thoughts to come after I've had some more time to digest this one. I'd still recommend this to most thriller/suspense/horror fans, with caution. There may be some triggers as this deals with depression/suicide. Onto my next great '21 read!
Profile Image for Adrian Dooley.
361 reviews100 followers
September 4, 2020
Not for me unfortunately. A rather muddled and overlong read.

Its the story of Lexi, who we are introduced to at the start. In her late 20s, severely depressed and having just survived a suicide attempt, the opening part of the book is narrated by her as her life slowly falls apart as her boyfriend leaves her, she finds herself homeless with no money.

Finding her boyfriends rail ticket, she hops on the first train she can find. She is still riddled with depression, her sanity and her life on a knife edge. On the train journey she overhears two women talking. One of them a nanny, tells her friend she has applied for a job in Norway for a few months to look after a widowers two children. Her friend tells her that she is pregnant and she cant leave her on her own so she decides to stay!
The two women head off to the get something to eat and ask Lexi to keep an eye on their stuff.
She steals a look at the laptop and finds the womans CV and job application which she takes photos of and decides its a good escape for her, she will pretend to be this woman and go for the interview.(this feels so far fetched as I type it and an extremely clunky bit of plotting)

So obviously Lexi gets the job and heads off to Norway to look after two young children, despite having no experience whatsoever, having submitted the glowing CV. Apparently she is able to wing it and learn from YouTube how to do the job. This is the woman that not a chapter or two ago had a failed suicide attempt and couldnt look after herself, never mind to young children in another country!

What entails is the story of the father determination to build a house he had started before his wife had committed suicide, Lexis life looking after the kids and trying to find out about said late wife, some Norwegian folk lore involving spirits of Fjords and nature and not to mess with it and well.. a rather meandering, dare I say it uninteresting read(a bit like this review perhaps!)

No real likeable characters here, all a bit wooden. The story does really drag and the Lexi we are introduced to is not the Lexi we find in Norway. Its all a bit preposterous. I get that the author was trying to build an air of tension and atmosphere in the Norwegian countryside but for me it fell flat on its face. At least 100 pages too long, even the ending annoyed me.

Many thanks to Netgalley, HarperCollins UK and C.J. Cooke for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Juli.
1,879 reviews474 followers
September 19, 2020
I loved this book! My favorite sort of suspense story is gothic, dark and atmospheric -- and this tale pressed all those buttons. The basics have been done before -- a down-on-her-luck young woman takes a nanny position....tells some lies to get it, in fact. Lexi believes she can escape her darkness....but ends up in a strange house on a cliff with weird happenings going on....did she run from darkness only to find more dark? Did the children's mother commit suicide....or did something more gruesome happen? Is the house haunted? Are the people the ones haunted?

There were some points where the story dragged a bit.... but I got sucked right back into the gothic pretty quickly. This is a perfect autumn, start of the ramp up to Halloween, sort of story. I propped myself up in bed with my trusted chihuahua by my side (I did not let her read the book with me -- too scary for her!), a cup of hot tea, and lovely gothic suspense! I was reminded of my teenage self devouring Victoria Holt books for the spooky, goth creepy house in the middle of nowhere stories! I think that's why I still love stories like this today!!

Very atmospheric, suspenseful and entertaining read! C.J. Cooke takes a plot that has been done many times and makes it her own. She breathes some life back into the nanny-in-the-spooky-house-with-weird-stuff tale -- kept me glued to my Ipad (digital galley) from start to finish!

**I voluntarily read a review copy of this book from Berkley Publishing. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.
Profile Image for Kate.
1,233 reviews2,206 followers
November 15, 2020

VERY disappointing. This should be advertised as a soap opera/drama rather then a thriller. Nothing happened for 330 pages (out of only 350pgs), zero twists, nothing was surprising or shocking or scary.

Also this has deer/elk in it lol what up with horror and deer recently now it's getting a little weird
Profile Image for Max.
288 reviews50 followers
November 22, 2020
Officially surpassed the 100 books mark! Now that my biggest challenge is down, mostly I'm just trying to clear my shelves before 2021 starts, so time to read a lot of my older(ish) books. First up was The Nesting, which I thought was a pretty decent thriller.

A novel that I'd probably classify as an airplane read, The Nesting follows a familiar set up in which a nanny goes to a house in the middle of nowhere and some creepy occurrences start to happen. With a slight twist, the Au Pair isn't who she says she is and the ghost is a Mother Nature type of spirit.

The Nesting was entertaining, but I thought it used a Blumhouse like tactic where the only point of having the supernatural ghosts was to keep the pace moving. This book could've easily been rewritten with no ghosts and its final product would be almost exactly the same. I'm not really complaining that we did get a haunting in the book, (usually I complain of the supernatural elements being entirely fake like in Riley Sager's books), but I think that the supernatural element was only used to keep the novel from being very boring.

While the protagonist was rootable, I thought their character arc was almost completely abandoned throughout the middle of the book. Because we know her getting caught as a fake is pretty much inevitable, I also think her mental illness or deepening sadness isn't written as well as it was in the first part of the book. I would almost go as far as to say the mansion itself was almost less creepy and saddening than the first fifty pages of the book. For people who want to read about a protagonist who is very in-depth and with a more explored area of grief and depression, I would recommend Somewhere in the Dark.

Like I said before, a pretty average thriller. If you really want to read something very mediocre which won't just be a hit or miss, I think you can definitely take something out of The Nesting.
Profile Image for Justin Chen.
401 reviews349 followers
January 6, 2021
2 stars

Wasted potential. The Nesting has intriguing elements, notably the inclusion of Nordic folklore, and an underlying message of Nature retaliating against human's undoing; unfortunately these are weighed down by a silly domestic melodrama disguising itself as a dark Gothic thriller.

I'm baffled by thriller's obsession with incompetent female protagonist; do readers actually find this exploitation appealing? It was excruciating suffering through Lexi's constant 'my mind is drawing a blank,' 'I shouldn't have said that,' 'words come out of my mouth before I can stop them,'— can we for once have a heroine who is actually capable of being a functional human? The rest of the cast doesn't fare much better, comes across as a bunch of self-loathing, entitled middle class with unconvincing intent and motivation.

I was drawn to The Nesting mainly for its architecture subplot, which turned out to be unintentionally laughable. The book makes constant claims its architect character is designing an 'environmentally friendly' dream house, but the design is literally drilling into a cliff and suspending a house on the edge — a millionaire's fancy cottage, perhaps, preserving the environment it is not, no matter how many solar panels that author claims is slapped on top. C.J. Cooke mentioned in her Acknowledgments she had architect fact-checked her novel; while I believe the construction details might be realistic, the misunderstanding of sustainable architecture and the 'Architecture (with capital A) has to look cool' approach completely contradicts the book's avocation for environmental preservation.

The Nesting has good intention, but very amateurishly assembled, with many subplots simply existing to add pages counts, and an unearned happy ending with all the characters mentally unscathed from the ordeal. No need to rush to this one unless you have absolutely nothing to read.

**Winterween 2021 Prompts: Winter Setting / Blue Cover**
Profile Image for Isabel McDonald.
356 reviews256 followers
October 13, 2020

If there was a perfect book for me, it would be this one. I am so completely blown away by how much I loved this book + it’s definitely a new favorite of all time 🙌🏼

The atmosphere of this book was absolute perfection. The story is set in Norway along a fjord, which was such a beautiful setting 🇳🇴🌊 I really loved how nature was such a big part of this story + I thought it was SO unique. Not only that, but I fell in love with the Nordic folklore aspect of this story. It was so beyond fascinating to read about + it really sets this thriller apart from others. I truly have never read a book quite like this one + that’s what makes it so special. This book had everything that I could possibly want in a thriller and this story + these characters will stay with me for a long time.

One of my favorite things about this book is that it is truly the perfect ghost story. This book is SO CREEPY from the beginning + it builds the suspense beautifully. Although technically it is more of a slow-burn, I couldn’t put this book down. I was hooked from start to finish + it was so incredibly well-done. There were so many unsettling scenes throughout the story that kept things so intriguing + I was actually scared by the end of this book, which is saying a lot 😳👻 I will say that readers will definitely have to suspend their disbelief to fully enjoy this story, but those are my favorite kinds of books. This book was absolutely incredible + I will forever recommend it to you guys. If you’re looking for a true ghost story that has the perfect atmosphere + unique plot, this one’s for you!

CW: suicide, self-harm, depression, domestic abuse, infertility, miscarriage, child abuse, rape, mentions of abortion + animal death
Profile Image for Dianne.
6,766 reviews588 followers
August 20, 2020
She lied about who she was, but she never realized that her desperation for a job would never match the desperation she would feel to survive. THE NESTING by C.J. Cooke is a razor-sharp, garrote tight thriller that will leave readers chilled.

Terrifying, heavy with atmosphere and an undefinable darkness, this tale takes readers to a secluded mountain in Norway where what one sees on the surface may not be the true reality. A fabulously gritty read that will leave the answers just out of reach until the very end!

C.J. Cooke has mastered the art of using her words in a diabolically devilish way!

I received a complimentary ARC edition from Berkley Publishing. This is my honest and voluntary review.

Publisher: Berkley (September 29, 2020)
Publication Date: September 29, 2020
Genre: Psychological Suspense
Paperback: 368 pages
Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
For Reviews, Giveaways, Fabulous Book News, follow: http://tometender.blogspot.com
Profile Image for Tonya.
419 reviews63 followers
March 21, 2022
Thank you NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group for my ARC. I enjoyed the ghostly Norwegian setting. The beginning reminded me of The Turn of the Key, but the similarities ended there. There was so much going on in this book. The pacing was a little slow, so it read as a slow paced mystery. There were some holes in the story that never felt wrapped up. From maddness, to ghosts, to Norwegian folklore; this book had many plot points that were intriguing and had me wanting more. This was an overall enjoyable read. It lacked the necessary building suspense of a great mystery.
Profile Image for Liz Barnsley.
3,433 reviews994 followers
October 26, 2020
loved this. It was equal parts chilling and emotive with a gorgeous setting beautifully described that made you just sink into it and I read it in one gulp of a sitting.

Lexi steals an identity and escapes from her life…taking on the role of Nanny to two girls who have recently lost their mother…but what exactly haunted Aurelia and is Tom Faraday, Dad, quite as perfect as he seems…

This is such a wonderful novel on so many levels. An exploration of grief in an isolated setting where mother nature rules, it is a creepy and effective modern fairy tale with quirky, intriguing characters and some dark imaginings that keep you turning the pages to find out what happens.

The descriptive language is pitch perfectly done so the whole thing has an off kilter, edgy feel and it is often unexpectedly heart wrenching. I just couldn’t bear to put it down and it stayed with me long after the final page was done.

Overall a truly excellent read. Highly recommended. Perfect for Halloween and the chilly weather.
Profile Image for Darla.
3,362 reviews531 followers
September 22, 2020
Mesmerizing. Norway is an undeniable force in this ethereal suspense tale. As with Ruth Ware's "The Turn of the Key," there is a hastily accepted nanny position for active little girls in a far-flung location and there is a house with a creepy vibe. Although I would heartily recommend this title to Ruth Ware fans, I will also make it very clear that this new title from C.J. Cooke excels on its own merits. The creep factor is a bit more dialed up than I prefer, but the arc of the narrative contains and at the same time utilizes the supernatural in a superb manner. Open up this new release and transport yourself to the fjords of Norway.

Thank you to Berkley and NetGalley for a DRC in exchange for an honest review.
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