Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Barter by Siobhan Adcock

The Barter by Siobhan Adcock
308 pages, Hardcover
Published September 2014, Dutton Adult
Source: provided by publisher for BookSparks Fall Reading Challenge 2014, NetGalley
About the Book

The Barter is a ghost story and a love story, a riveting emotional tale that also explores motherhood and work and feminism. Set in Texas, in present day, and at the turn of the twentieth century, the novel follows two young mothers at the turning point of their lives.

Bridget has given up her career as an attorney to raise her daughter, joining a cadre of stay-at-home mothers seeking fulfillment in a quiet suburb. But for Bridget, some crucial part of the exchange is absent: Something she loves and needs. And now a terrifying presence has entered her home; only nobody but Bridget can feel it.

On a farm in 1902, a young city bride takes a farmer husband. The marriage bed will become both crucible and anvil as Rebecca first allows, then negates, the powerful erotic connection between them. She turns her back on John to give all her love to their child. Much will occur in this cold house, none of it good.

As Siobhan Adcock crosscuts these stories with mounting tension, each woman arrives at a terrible ordeal of her own making, tinged with love and fear and dread. What will they sacrifice to save their families—and themselves? Readers will slow down to enjoy the gorgeous language, then speed up to see what happens next in a plot that thrums with the weight of decision—and its explosive consequences. 

My Review

A ghost story sounded like a perfect read to start off October. However, if you are looking for a scary book, this isn't it. There is a ghost, but it's not so much a thriller with chills, it's more of a quiet psychological thriller.

This is a story of two women in different era's attempting to figure out their lives as new wives and mothers, Bridget in the present day and Rebecca in the early 1900's. There is so much loneliness and sadness, feelings of being abandoned and bitterness towards their respective husbands.

You have Bridget's weird experiences with the ghost, her strange socially-awkward interactions with her husband and friends. She is so isolated and alone with just her child-could she be imagining the ghost that wanders her house? Then there's Rebecca and her strange "love" story with the farm boy. I don't even know if you could call it a love story.

Adcock's writing is very quiet and sometimes lyrical. I enjoyed this haunting tale quite a bit. 

Praise for the Book

"Eerie and atmospheric, this psychological thriller will twist its way into readers' psyches." - Booklist

"Suspenseful debut." - Publishers Weekly

The Barter is a delightful and utterly unique portrait of parenthood across the ages. Siobhan Adcock manages to express what is inexpressible about motherhood and marriage, deftly capturing the banal and the divine, the give and the take. As funny, profound, otherworldly, and terrifying as love itself, this is a debut novel not to be missed.” –Amy Shearn, author of The Mermaid of Brooklynand How Far is the Ocean From Here 

“Absolutely outstanding. The Barter is a ghost story haunted by love, a love story haunted by ghosts, and a literary mystery propelled by the unsaid secrets of marriage and motherhood. In Adcock's world, you won't know whether it's fear, love, or outright beauty making your heart beat like a drum. You won't know, and you won't care at all. You'll just have to keep reading.”
–Patrick Somerville, author of This Bright River and The Cradle
“Reading The Barter is like standing at the edge of an abyss: deep, dark, and terrifying, it is also a gripping and exhilarating story about fear, courage, and the demands and sacrifices of love. An enthralling page-turner of a novel that had me on the edge of my seat from the first page and continued to haunt me after the last.” –Catherine Chung, author of Forgotten Country 

“Siobhan Adcock takes a very contemporary question – can women ever really “have it all” or are trade-offs invariably exacted? – and examines it through the startling prism of a ghost story. Part comedy of manners, part historical fiction, and part genuinely creepy page-turner, The Barter casts a lively eye on the sacrifices, willing and involuntary, women make as they endeavor to weave together the heart’s various desires.” --Leah Hager Cohen, author of No Book But the World 

“Siobhan Adcock’s impressive debut is a spellbinding blend of historical fiction and ghost story, made all the more believable—and harrowing—by its realistic depiction of the tenuous balance between fulfillment and sacrifice within a marriage.” —Jennifer Chiaverini, author of Mrs. Lincoln’s Rival

Buy the book

·      Amazon Kindle:
·      Amazon Hardcover:

About the Author

SIOBHAN ADCOCK received her MFA in fiction from Cornell University, and her short fiction has appeared in several literary magazines. She has worked as a writer and editor for Epicurious,,, and The Knowm among other digital publishers. She lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York.

For more information about the book and author visit her on her WEBSITE, TWITTER and GOODREADS.

Happy Reading!


  1. This sounds interesting. I am not the horror-story kind of girl, but I can read a quieter ghost story. Great review!

    1. Thanks. I enjoyed it. Much much about motherhood and sacrifice than a ghost story. It was good.


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