Synopses & Reviews
Dinah Whitcomb seemingly has everything. A loving and successful husband, and a smart, precocious young son named Robbie. One day, their worlds are shattered when Dinah is attacked and Robbie is taken in a mall parking lot. Dinah, injured, attempts to follow, but is run over by the kidnapper's van, mangling her body nearly beyond repair.
The kidnapper, a part-time Preacher named Chester Cash, calls himself Daddy Love, as he has abducted, tortured, and raped several young boys into being his lover and as well as his 'son'. He confines Robbie in a device called an Wooden Maiden, in essence a small coffin, and renamed him 'Gideon'. Daddy Love slowly brainwashes 'Gideon' into believing that he is Daddy Love's real son, and any time the boy resists or rebels it is met with punishment beyond his wildest nightmares.
As Dinah recovers from her wounds, her world and her marriage struggle to exist every day. Though it seems hopeless, she keeps a flicker of hope alive that her son is still alive.
As Robbie grows older, he becomes more aware of just how monstrous Daddy Love truly is. Though as a small boy he as terrified of what might happen if he disobeyed Daddy Love, Robbie begins to realize that the longer he stays in the home of this demon, the greater chance he'll end up like Daddy Love's other 'sons' who were never heard from again. Somewhere within this tortured young boy lies a spark of rebellion...and soon he sees just what lengths he must go to in order to have any chance at survival.
"At the start of this gripping psychological thriller from Oates (The Gravedigger's Daughter), Dinah Whitcomb is playing the 'find our car' game with her five-year-old son, Robbie, in the parking lot of an Ypsilanti, Mich., mall when a stranger seizes the boy and runs over Dinah in his van, maiming her. Robbie is renamed Gideon by Daddy Love, his abductor, who has kidnapped several little boys through the years, killing them when they're adolescents and 'too old' for him. The outside world knows Daddy Love as Chet Cash, a loving father, a sensitive artist, and itinerant preacher. Spanning six years, the action shifts between Gideon and Daddy Love, who's quick to mete out cruel punishments, and Dinah and her husband, bonded by guilt in a crumbling marriage. The creep factor ramps up when the intuitive Gideon realizes that he's not Daddy Love's only 'son' and the fate that awaits him. This unsettling tale showcases Oates's masterful storytelling. Agent: Warren Frazier, John Hawkins & Associates." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
After all these years, Joyce Carol Oates can still give me the creeps. Oates is a mind-reader who writes psychological horror stories about seriously disturbed minds, and its hard to tear your eyes away from her grimly detailed portrait of Daddy Love
. But her insights into nice, ordinary people—the kind of people Robbies parents used to be, before their son was stolen—are no less incisive. Oates has more knives to throw before bringing this harrowing tale to a close—but she saves the sharpest one for the very last page.”—Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review
"Wrenching, tightly written and focused . . . a grim examination of how humans cope with unspeakable physical and psychological pain. She illuminates the darkest corners and shows us the startled, troubled creatures hiding there, nursing their wounds, staring back at us, their kin."Cleveland Plain-Dealer
"I haven't met a Joyce Carol Oates story or novel that I didn't like and Daddy Love is no exception."Huntington News
"Haunting, terrifying, disturbing.”Atlantic Wire
Joyce Carol Oates, author of dozens of grim novels, knows the dark side of life better than most and explores it here in a lean and disturbing tale that reverberates after its ending.”Columbus Dispatch
Oates makes us squirm as she forces us to see some of the action through Loves twisted and warped perspective.”Kirkus Reviews
This unsettling tale showcases Oatess masterful storytelling.”Publishers Weekly
An urgently compelling and drastically revealing study of evil, habitual terror, and survival.”Booklist
"Daddy Love is a book not to be taken lightly . . . [it] pushes us to confront what lurks behind the front door."New York Journal of Books
"Joyce Carol Oatess latest book is a horror. As in horror story, frightening, alarmingly realistic. The monsters in Daddy Love are people, not fantastical creatures from the deep or outer space. They are human."PopMatters
About the Author
Joyce Carol Oates is the author of such national best-sellers as The Falls, Blonde, and We Were the Mulvaneys. She has been nominated for six National Book Awards, winning for Them.