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Fiction General

The Retreat

A Novel

by (author) Elisabeth de Mariaffi

HarperCollins Canada
Initial publish date
Jul 2021
General, Thrillers, Psychological
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Jul 2021
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jul 2021
    List Price

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Everyone has a secret to keep . . .

Maeve Martin arrives at the High Water Center for the Arts determined to do one thing: launch her own dance company. Time is running out for the former principal dancer and mother of two to find her feet again after the collapse of a disastrous and violent marriage. At first, there’s a thrill to being on her own for the first time in years, isolated in the beauty of a snowy mountain lodge.

But when an avalanche traps the guests inside, tensions run high. Help is coming, so they just have to hold on, don’t they? But as days pass, the other guests are struck down by mysterious deaths, one by one. Now, as she waits in fear, Maeve must admit how little she knows about anyone else . . . and how useless a locked door is if the darkness is already inside.

About the author

ELISABETH DE MARIAFFI’s debut book of short stories, How to Get Along with Women, was longlisted for the 2013 Scotiabank Giller Prize. Her poetry and short fiction have been widely published in magazines across Canada. Her first novel, The Devil You Know, was named one of the Best Books of 2015 by the Globe and Mail and the National Post. The Globe and Mail also chose her most recent novel, Hysteria, as one of the Best Books of 2018. Both books were shortlisted for the Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award. Elisabeth de Mariaffi lives in St. John’s, Newfoundland, with the poet George Murray and their four children.

Elisabeth de Mariaffi's profile page


  • Newfoundland and Labrador Book Award for Fiction

Editorial Reviews

“A gorgeously written atmospheric thriller with hidden depths, The Retreat will have readers racing through the pages, trying to decide whom to trust, until the chilling finale.” — Robyn Harding, internationally bestselling author of The Swap

“Take a group of artists, ambition, isolation, and violence, and add a twist of the coldest, snowiest winter you’ve ever known, and you’ll arrive at The Retreat. Yet de Mariaffi’s heart-stopping thriller is powered by more than suspense—Maeve, her resourceful main character, is a mother and dancer piecing her life together after an abusive marriage, and Maeve’s journey through the novel’s danger and betrayals becomes a genuine act of grace.” — Maria Hummel, author of Still Lives

“This vivid, immersive story had me jumping at shadows. The isolated setting, the tension between the characters, the sense of danger unravelling in a place there is no escape from. Suspenseful and atmospheric, it will keep you questioning which is the biggest threat - nature or people, outside or in.” — Helen Cooper, author of The Downstairs Neighbor

The Retreat is a magnificently absorbing and haunting novel. When dancer Maeve Martin arrives at a remote arts centre to spend a few weeks in reconnecting with her waning dance career, we understand immediately that she is not safe high up in the snowy mountains. . . . de Mariaffi’s spare yet deeply rich prose renders the isolation and claustrophobia of the mountains downright palpable. With a dabble each of Hitchcock thriller, cozy mystery and domestic noir, The Retreat offers readers a most thrilling setup followed by a galloping sprint to the final page. What a terrifyingly fun read. — Amy Stuart, author of Still Water

“de Mariaffi gets the atmosphere right. . . .The mystery is nicely done and it’s a lot of fun to guess the clues. This is a perfect getaway book for the cottage.” — Globe and Mail (Toronto)

“de Mariaffi has built a reputation over her last two books — both novels — for her knack for weaving the elements of genre fiction with keen attention to women’s lives and a strong literary bent. . . . The Retreat shines, at once thoughtful and chilling, familiar and unsettling.” — Toronto Star

“Elisabeth de Mariaffi does an excellent job weaving the reader into this tactile sense of lifting and stretching, wincing and bruising. . . . And as the hours pass with no rescue, Mariaffi’s classic horror setup gets ever more bizarre and macabre.” — Telegram

“This thriller delivers double the chills, making it the perfect book to beat the heat.” — Zoomer Magazine

“Canadian author Elisabeth de Mariaffi’s latest has shades of Agatha Christie and will keep you guessing until the end.” — Real Style Magazine

“As in her previous novels (Hysteria, The Devil You Know), de Mariaffi’s knack for penning adrenalin-rush action scenes is on full display.” — Postmedia

The Retreat also turns the intriguing central device of the Christie classic on its head by giving it unexpected weight and substance, which is why de Mariaffi is considered a practitioner of the literary thriller rather than simply an escapist entertainer.” — Postmedia

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