Imagine moving into a new place — the cost of moving, the stress of living from boxes, getting used to the neighborhood, and the time it takes getting used to the surroundings. It can be stressful. But how stressful is this process? Is it enough to make a stable, level-headed person crack under the pressure?
In Ben H. Winters’ (author of Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters) latest novel, Bedbugs, from Quirkbooks, Alex and Susan Wendt decide to leave their small one-bedroom apartment and move their family into a larger home in Brooklyn. If you’re a homeowner or you’ve moved to a new town and needed an apartment to rent, you know the stress of finding “THE ONE” (see my previous posts about home ownership if you have no clue about this experience….).
It’s easy to overlook a few cracks here or a few things there if it means that you’re settled and no longer searching through for-sale/rent ads. Alex and Susan found relief in a brownstone house in Brooklyn. This home had tin ceilings, a bonus room, a decent sized kitchen, and a nice landlord. Although there were a few issues and despite a few cryptic comments from the maintenance man, the couple sign a lease and move in.
Susan, who left her position in a law firm to pursue life as an artist, quickly settles in with the unpacking and arranging of their lives in the new home. She cares for her daughter, searches for the perfect shops, and maps out the best commutes in the area. Although she stays busy with the house work, she also feels guilty for leaving her job and reducing the family income to pursue life as an artist. She promises herself that once the routine is settled, she will begin to paint. Eventually their routine settles in, Alex and Susan feel like their lives are returning to normal, but they cannot overcome the paranoia of having bedbugs. News of pest infestations are every where and all of their friends insist they have the house inspected, but Alex and Susan are convinced they are clean.
And then first bites appear on Susan.
An inspection is done by the “insect inspector of the stars” and it turns up nothing. Weeks go on and Susan can only focus on are welts that keep appearing on her body each morning. The odd thing is, Susan is the only member of the household with the bug bites. The only evidence of bedbugs are these welts. As the bites continue, things become tense between Susan and everyone else. Susan reaches out to her friend, but she is alienated because no one wants her bedbugs. What is interesting is that the inspector has deemed them to be bug-free but no one will reach out to her “just in case.” Eventually, Susan is alienated from everyone she knows, including Alex.
Susan cannot prove that she has a bedbug infestation but has no way of explaining the severe outbreak of bite-like welts that cover her body. It is even suggested that the welts on her body are self-inflicted. So what is the answer? Where do they bites come from? Was the stress of moving too much for Susan to handle or are supernatural spirits at play in the old Brownstone?
Read and find out 😉
This book is fantastic and it’s out on shelves tomorrow (You can buy it here.). I picked the book up one morning and read 100 pages without realizing it. The story flows so well and keeps readers engrossed throughout the story. You won’t be able to put it down.
I highly recommend reading this book, but take note: Your skin will crawl.