Stony River, New Jersey, 1955: On a sweltering June afternoon, Linda Wise and Tereza Dobra witness a disturbing scene. A pale, pretty girl who looks about their age is taken from Crazy Haggerty’s house by two uniformed policemen. Everyone in Stony River thought Crazy Haggerty lived alone. The pale, pretty girl is about to enter an alien world, and as Tereza and Linda try to make sense of what they’ve seen, they’re unaware their own lives will soon be shattered as well.
Set in a decade we tend to think of as a more innocent time, Stony River shows in dramatic and unexpected ways how perilous it was to come of age in the 1950s with its absent mothers, controlling fathers, biblical injunctions, teenaged longing, and small-town pretence. The threat of sexual violence is all around: angry fathers at home, dirty boys in the neighbourhood, strange men in strange cars, a dead girl, and another gone missing.
An engrossing novel about growing up, finding your voice, and forgiving your family, Stony River is a brilliant story from a remarkable new Canadian voice.
“Seeing differently is…the truest gift Dower has given to her readers. She says her goal was to write a “ripping good yarn,” but that the urge to challenge religious dogma as well as assumptions about right and wrong, sanity and madness, love and abuse crept in. She’s right, but her writing is so imbued with compassion that it never seems strident. By the time you finish this novel, you, too, will see differently, and you will be a better person for it.”
— The Coastal Spectator
“‘What did the devil look like?’” asks Tereza, a teenage girl who “seemed to accept the cost of doing what she pleased.” In response, Tereza’s beau says,“Me, of course. That’s what he does.” But the devil is not just in any particular man in Stony River, its evil is woven into the fabric of its paternalistic society, and Dower’s understanding and ability to subtly manifest that bane is pure brilliance.”
— The Saint John Telegraph-Journal
“Dower provokes readers to think and question.”
— Monday Magazine
“Stony River is a powerful coming-of-age novel, which meticulously evokes time and place, and tackles moral dilemmas, religious dogma, spirituality, sexuality, depression, incest and abuse. It’s rare to find such a polished debut and Dower is a masterful storyteller to watch.”
— The Globe and Mail
“Think Mad Men but even madder.”
— The Toronto Star
“Exquisitely written, honest, and entertaining, everything in this disquieting story works toward a successful narrative. Equally evocative and insightful, intriguing thematically and symbolically, Stony River is intensely satisfying, like reading Margaret Laurence.”
— Book Club Buddy
“Dower does an excellent job chronicling the formative years of her central trio in a coming-of-age story that effectively tackles heavy subjects including domestic abuse, mental illness, and rape. While each girl’s story branches off in a different direction, each manages to remain equally compelling, and the shifting story lines and perspectives feel effortless.”
— Quill & Quire
“Stony River has a theatrical/cinematic feel, a sense of epic, of grandness, and Dower is ambitious in her approach, tackling crime fiction, riffing on True Romance, writing men and women, children and adults, and considering topics including domestic violence, depression, incest, religion, the supernatural and murder. Dower’s writing is excellent, her period details wonderfully wrought, a sense of time and place absolutely evoked.”
— Kerry Clare (Pickle Me This)
“Nothing is what it seems in Stony River and Dower’s novel keeps you turning pages until the end.”
— Goodreads User Quote
“A taut, compelling portrait of a small town’s underbelly. With sinister imagery and crisp evocative prose, Tricia Dower pulls back the cloak of 1950s “innocence” to expose the ugly secrets that lie in wait, teeth grown sharp in the dark. A compassionate and addictive page turner, Stony River is a scintillating debut.”
— Billie Livingston, award-winning author of Greedy Little Eyes
Tricia Dower was born in Rahway, New Jersey, and educated at Gettysburg College. She moved to Canada in 1981. Her short fiction has appeared in Room of One’s Own, The New Quarterly, The Malahat Review, Hemispheres, Cicada, Big Muddy, and NEO, as well as in her collection, Silent Girl. She lives in Brentwood Bay, British Columbia. Stony River is her debut novel.