A stunning novel about faith, innocence and sin, the tale of an unusual rite of passage with terrible consequences by the prize-winning young author of The Land of Decoration.
I thought it began the day Father came home without work. Then I thought perhaps it really began the day we arrived at the farm, rumbled up the track, opened the gate and stood looking around as if we had found ourselves in some enchanted land . . .
Something happened on Madeline's fourteenth birthday, something so traumatic that it triggered her mental breakdown. Many years later, she still can't - or perhaps won't - recall the events of that night.
A charismatic new psychiatrist, Dr Lucas, believes he can unlock Madeline's memory by taking her step by step through the preceding year, when her father moved the family to an island he was certain God had guided them to.
Money was short, her mother often unwell and her father a volatile presence. Yet Madeline loved their rural idyll, sensing God in every blade of grass; and when things started to go wrong, she thought she knew how to put them right. But as Dr Lucas unearths the past, it becomes apparent that she was seriously misguided - and that he is treading on very dangerous ground.
Lyrically evoking the rhythms and beauty of the natural world, The Offering is a novel taut with foreboding, a haunting tale of misplaced faith and a heartbreakingly damaged psyche.
Extraordinary...Wonderfully suspenseful and deeply moving, The Offering is full of insights about the nature of madness. It is also keenly observant of the ways in which men play God and the power of the oppressed imagination to create an inhabitable world, even under near-intolerable conditions. — John Burnside, Guardian
That McCleen is a writer of exceptional gifts is beyond doubt. Her prose can soar in moments of breathtaking beauty, most particularly when she turns a poet's eye on the landscape...she writes equally viscerally about her narrator's emotional terrain, depicting claustrophobia, shame and terror so painfully it makes your skin itch. — Stephanie Merritt, Observer
Strange and beautiful — Hope Whitmore, Independent on Sunday
Grace McCleen's talent for description, especially when portraying the natural world, is quite exquisite — Carol Midgley, The Times
The richness with which Madeline describes her febrile younger self contrasts heartbreakingly with the glassy, emotionally neutered life she inhabits now...a bold, mature, terribly sad novel. — Claire Allfree, Daily Mail
Impressive, a plausible and moving account of mental illness. — Sam Kitchener, Daily Telegraph
Captures the intensity of teenage anguish, and expresses a terrifying estimation of its implications, but it also dares to suggest that God can never be removed from the equation and asks: What is God? — Max Liu, Independent
There is an eerie sense of foreboding in Grace McCleen's wonderful third novel...Terrific and terrifying. — Psychologies (Book of the Month)
Award-winning author Grace McCleen returns with The Offering, a mesmerising story of innocence corrupted. — Good Housekeeping
[McCleen's] vivid representations of the wild environment, loaded with symbolism and a powerful, often sinister spirituality, can bring to mind the poetry of Louise Erdrich, and a sense of fear and foreboding propels the narrative forward. The family's first spring on the island, for example, is described in a single, stunning sentence [...] the denouement will leave you reeling. — Laura Battle, Financial Times