“A witty and grisly gothic unlike anything I’ve ever read. You should absolutely read this.” –Kelly Link, author of Get in Trouble
A new arrival at an isolated school for orphaned boys quickly comes to realize there is something wrong with his new home. He hears chilling whispers in the night, his troubled classmates are violent and hostile, and the Headmaster sends cryptic messages, begging his new charge to confess. As the new boy learns to survive on the edges of this impolite society, he starts to unravel a mystery at the school’s dark heart. And that’s when the corpses start turning up.
A coming-of-age tale, a Gothic ghost story, and a murder mystery all in one, The Job of the Wasp is a bloodcurdling and brilliantly subversive novel about paranoia, love, and the nightmare of adolescence.
A witty and grisly gothic unlike anything I’ve ever read. You should absolutely read this.
"Writing as if in reaction to the glut of rapid-paced thrillers that read more like screenplays or plot points with dialogue, Winnette . . . exhibits a triumph of patience--exceedingly rare in young authors--and a gothic introspection that is a welcome antidote . . . This deeply haunting mix of literary aesthetics, murder mystery, and the dark intensity of contemporary thriller will be savored by fans of Jac Jemc’s The Grip of It, Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, Marisha Pessl’s Night Film, and Peter Straub’s Shadowland."
Colin Winnette’s short, sharp shock of a novel will convince readers that only the worst can happen among a gloomy collection of administrators, teachers and students. . . . Winnette saturates The Job of the Wasp with odd incidents designed to keep readers perpetually off balance. . . . The narrator proves to be anything but reliable, and that’s the creepy fun of The Job of the Wasp. . . . Winnette’s book. . . . is its own unique, surreal thing, related in a distinctive voice, by turns funny and spooky.
"Oscillating between murder mystery, psychological thriller, and coming-of-age novel, The Job of the Wasp is a careful, yet playful, study of the power plays inevitable among children, and between children and adults, by way of an exploration of group dynamics and science fiction. Winnette’s work capitalizes on the spectral aspect of being alive to discover a newfound meaning for self-actualization . . . Winnette effectively paints the picture of the preteen experience: an endless stream of attempts to fit into a group that innately wants to reject you and arbitrarily demean you. Interestingly, Winnette combines this trope with some critical theory. If the child is suddenly a threat to the others, and if no one believes a word he says or wants anything to do with him, then what does it mean for him to be the sole narrator of the story? . . . It’s the unheimlich, the uncanny nature of Winnette’s story that makes each narrative occurrence visceral and creepily familiar."
With Winnette’s fourth novel he proves he’s adept at re-appropriating genre conventions in intriguing ways.
I’m a sucker for smart horror novels, in the same way that I’m a sucker for smart horror movies. They’re my popcorn, and I’ve heard this is a great one. The quiet of the nighttime desert around my yurt will turn any atmospheric spookiness up to 11.
It’s been a while since a book kept me captivated by gory mystery, anxiously awaiting the next turn of the page, as I was while reading Colin Winnette’s The Job of the Wasp. . . . Winnette pulls off suspense masterfully, keeping the reader constantly guessing, uncertain of the true nature of the mischief afoot. Every time I thought I knew ’whodunnit, ’ a new element was introduced, rendering my previous theories impossible, and setting me on a new route of grizzly discovery. Throughout the book, Winnette maintains a perfectly gothic atmosphere that is simply gorgeous. At times, I actually felt the proverbial ’chills down my spine’ and had to put the book down, walk away and shake off that creepy old feeling.
Winnette looked at haunted house stories, locked-room mysteries, Victorian boarding school stories, and unreliable narrator-helmed psychological thrillers and was like, I WANT ALL THE THINGS. And thus, The Job of the Wasp was born, featuring a couple of unreliable narrators, a deeply disturbing boarding school environment, dead bodies turning up where you least expect them, and, if all that wasn’t frightening enough, f*cking wasps." --Tor.com, Reviewers’ Choice: The Best Books of 2018
This book works marvelously as a spooky horror before suddenly becoming a moving tale of alienation . . . Winnette’s writing is immaculate. From descriptions of corpses to the inner lives of wasps, I believed every word he gave me. And in our narrator, he’s created a singular voice: prissy, contemptuous, achingly lonely, and darkly funny . . . This isn’t just a ghost story or a locked room mystery--it’s much more an examination of how we define reality, he we interact with our deepest fears, and how we define our humanity. But the ghost stuff is also cool, and if you’re looking for a visceral horror experience, this book is a perfect fit for a stormy night’s reading.
The Job of the Wasp is what would happen if William Golding’s Lord of the Flies crashed against Guillermo del Toro’s The Devil’s Backbone at high speed in a room full of pulp magazines where Kinji Fukasaku was trying to rewrite Battle Royale as a Gothic ghost story.
The Job of the Wasp reads fast and sometimes funny . . . Because even as Winnette unboxes the mystery, lays all his cards on the table, it is the small shift in the narrator’s mind set the reader is drawn towards . . . Winnette has done a fine job crafting his bizarre, haunting world.
Winnette’s ghastly vision, which would be right at home in the minds of Guillermo del Toro or Shirley Jackson, is disturbing from beginning to end. The narrator’s voice contains an emotionless chill that gradually gets under the reader’s skin like the endless ticking of a clock . . . Winnette has conjured a profoundly unsettling story from the murky depths of his imagination; once it clicks, giggles, and slithers into your mind, it’s nearly impossible to dislodge.
"[The novel is] commendable for its experimentation: its oddness evokes Robert Walser’s Jakob von Gunten and Ferdydurke by Witold Gombrowicz. This is a worthwhile novel for readers of the dark and twisted, who will find both in spades."
[A] gripping new novel . . . The Job of the Wasp reminds me of Neil Gaiman’s Dead Boy Detectives characters, introduced as neglected wards of their near-empty boarding school during the Sandman ’Seasons of Mists’ arc . . . Winnette has a real gift for immersive voice.
Winnette’s latest novel should be required reading for moody teenagers the world over: A coming-of-age tale replete with darkness and murder, The Job of the Wasp refuses to soften for the sake of its reader.
"It’s so good . . . I would describe this as if Kelly Link wrote Lord of the Flies. The writing is really fun and the tone is quiet light despite the fact that it’s this weird, murder-y, gothic novel... I really, really enjoyed it."
With The Job of the Wasp, Winnette deftly introduces a stern Headmaster, an indifferent teacher, a perverted tailor and dozens of nameless enemies. This whips up a web of intrigue, but it’s Winnette’s wicked prose (a standout passage: "What use is there in talking about something in the language of what it is not?") that tantalizes the reader and introduces uncertainty at every turn.
A writer whose work absconds tradition on a quest for making new myth. . . . The Job of the Wasp, then, showcases the fun of the murder mystery within the gothic tradition. This is not an old gothic text, where environmental fear makes us retreat further inside ourselves, no, this is a revitalized gothic, where fear is controlled by our institutions, forcing to us act out of turn. . . . Kudos to Winnette for spinning such a bone-chilling novel. We would be wise to question our own allegiances for once. The Job of the Wasp seems to ask from where do we take power, comfort--and how often at the expense of others.
The Job of the Wasp is a madcap mystery, a macabre coming-of-age story and an unearthly fantasy--but it feels like childhood, like the world, like life.
"This time of the year is perfect for coming-of-age ghost stories, especially one that sounds as mysterious and intriguing as [The Job of the Wasp]... Winnette takes on the gothic ghost story, delivering ghastly chills with a literary flair."
A fantastic-looking Gothic novel.
The Job of the Wasp is wonderfully creepy and peculiar. a sort of gothic rendition of Lord of the Flies. Colin Winnette is an enviable, natural talent, and to read him is a pure entertainment.
"Not only a page turner--and it is that--The Job of the Wasp is an unsettling whodunit like you have never read before. Terrifying and stylish, disconcerting and beautiful, it calls to mind Donna Tartt’s The Secret History and the mysteries of Agatha Christie, though Winnette is his own echoing and eerie original voice. This is a perceptive, darkly funny novel that reminds us of how thrilling and bizarre it is to be alive."
"I’ve never read anything like this book before. Colin Winnette’s voice is utterly unique, his writing is delirious. This book is surreal, it’s scary like a weird dream, and it is hilarious. He is a hugely talented writer."
"The Job of the Wasp takes the best parts of some of the most delectable kinds of stories--the boarding school narrative, the locked-room murder mystery, the ghost story--and renders them wholly fresh. Colin Winnette is a writer both killingly funny and wise to the ways in which humor and absurdity contain untold sorrow. Even as The Job of the Wasp delights you with strangeness, with imagination, with intrigue, prepare also for devastation."
"The Job of the Wasp is a unique, deeply strange, and satisfying uncanny tale that surprises and at times shocks."
Winnette portrays his serial killers with an odd grace and punctuates his circular narrative with murders, revenge killings, a shooting spree, and a heroic arc for wannabe gunslinger Bird that is broadly, darkly humorous.
Winnette’s vision is darker, and his knack for tapping into scenes of primal fear and poetic violence serves as an indictment of our species’ base nature and worst instincts. Bloodshed begets bloodshed, but Haints Stay lingers on the trauma of the aftermath and explores the unintended consequences of violence.
[Winnette] accentuates the grimness of this portrait of the frontier as a place where desperation and death were always near at hand.
Dreamlike in its tone from the outset, Haints Stay becomes even more so as it reaches its conclusion: hidden identities are revealed; a sense of surrender pervades the novel as notions of identity slip away and blur. And the book’s final sentence shifts things from the Western realm to an even deeper strain of American literature, magnifying the subversion even more as it nods in the direction of an iconic final sentence.
One of the most wonderful things about Haints Stay is its black sense of humor. It’s subtle, dry, and slightly perverse, but it’s definitely there. It keeps the otherwise brutal reality of the character’s lives in check, because if there’s one thing the reader learns about Brooke and Sugar quite early on in the book, it’s this: don’t piss them off. These are men who are willing to slice guts and throats to avenge stolen blankets.
The cinematic quality to this work is undeniable and there’s a coolness that reminds me of Cormac McCarthy--but I like this more than McCarthy.
Colin Winnette’s Haints Stay is a brutally dark and haunting novel of two killers, a noir Western that sits proudly among modern classics like Patrick deWitt’s The Sisters Brothers and Rudy Wurlitzer’s The Drop Edge of Yonder
Haints Stay] "is an intense, bloody, touching, and unexpectedly funny narrative that’s part road novel, part weird Western, and part coming of age/coming of gender story.
Haints Stay is dark, and bloody, and violent: raw and cutthroat and still capable of reducing you to helpless snickers.
Like a modern-day Poe, [Winnette] has fashioned a narrator whose pull on the reader’s sympathy gradually fades as she recounts the aftermath of her daughter’s mysterious disappearance?.Winnette’s deeply affecting story is hard to put down and even harder to forget.
While there’s a contemporary urgency to Winnette’s novel, it’s the small details (and how they’re revealed) that give this story its considerable sting.
Winnette’s work has the timeless quality of myth?--?nameless characters whose stories feel more like refractions of something eternal than concrete events being narrated. The book is over in a heartbeat?--?all the better to reread it and spend some time burrowing into some of the exquisitely crafted sentences.
Winnette writes in that sort of effortless-yet-insightful style that makes other writers want to rewrite everything they’ve ever written; this together with his willingness to plumb the darkest depths of human emotion, for lack of a better word, stuns.
Although it’s a slim book, Coyote is a perfect example of less being more. Winnette has created an experience in which the reader is led through the labyrinth of a disturbed woman’s mind, unforgettably.
Sharp and delicate, this story is as fragmented as the narrator’s shattered frame of mind, all the more satisfying for its uncertainties.
Coyote has a strong and inviting voice and that voice wraps around a dark story, a contemporary story, and one that has its own velocity and fragmentation built in. I found myself swept along in it and impacted by its delicate/bleak movement.
This spare, nerve-rattling tale -- which has nothing to do with wild dogs -- lingers long after it’s put down.
Subtly vicious and slowly heartbreaking, Coyote by Colin Winnette is a splinter that strikes a major nerve making your whole body tremble.
Once again, I’m left with more questions than answers. Or, maybe, I do have the answers--answers that I just don’t understand. Regardless, this is something with which I am gladly learning to live, and that Colin Winnette’s Animal Collection, which watches me from my living room coffee table, constantly reminds me.
[A]a totally quirky and wonderful book of fiction that runs a gamut of experiences all based (both literally and metaphorically) on the theme of animals.