April 2024

The Morningside

By Téa Obreht
Review by
Téa Obreht’s latest novel, The Morningside, soars in its depiction of an alternative world frighteningly similar to our own.
Share this Article:

Téa Obreht’s satisfyingly unsettling new novel, The Morningside, takes place in the near future, in an East Coast city that resembles New York. Eleven-year-old Silvia and her mother have traveled to Island City after their home was destroyed by flooding. They move into a 100-year-old building called the Morningside, that, like Island City, has seen better days. Silvia and other refuge-seekers have been brought in by the federal Repopulation Program to help revitalize the place.

The building superintendent is Silvia’s Aunt Ena, a woman who is “short, loud, and incredibly ill-practiced at speaking to eleven-year-old nieces.” A marvelous character, Ena has an unfortunate tendency to share details about the farm the family once lived on, details that Silvia’s mother would prefer to keep secret. She also fills Silvia in on Bezi Duras, the mysterious resident of the 33rd floor penthouse. Silvia begins to suspect that Bezi is not just an eccentric painter with an elaborate orchard but also a Vila, a vindictive mountain spirit. Her suspicions grow when light bulbs spontaneously burst and water pipes begin “spurting sulfurously” after a curious Silvia tries to break into Bezi’s apartment.

That’s just the start of the strange dealings. With finely calibrated assurance, Obreht develops a sense of unease that is compounded by an underground radio transmission known as the Drowned City Dispatch, large animals rumored to be “men during the day and dogs at night,” a friend who lures Silvia into nighttime escapades, and the possibility that a killer may be in their midst.

The ending is too neat, but The Morningside soars in its depiction of an alternative world frighteningly similar to our own. Whether or not they ever face forcible displacement in their life, everyone at some point must confront their past. Obreht addresses this truism with startling freshness in this entertaining work.

Trending Reviews

Get the Book

The Morningside

The Morningside

By Téa Obreht
Random House
ISBN 9781984855503

Sign Up

Stay on top of new releases: Sign up for our newsletter to receive reading recommendations in your favorite genres.