The Chilling Simple

Zana Previti


Young Nora Pirrip has lost her entire family to a mysterious plague-like illness. After her recovery, while searching for answers she forms a close bond with a secretive doctor and those who work in his household. As these relationships grow closer, village mysteries begin to unravel. Who is stealing bodies from the village graveyard? How did the blacksmith die? What happened to the midwife’s sister? Where did Nora’s mother go, all those years she was missing? What is going on in the big house on the hill? The stories of the other Chilling families and inhabitants intersect with Nora’s search for the meaning of and the answers about her family’s deaths. Eventually, Nora’s quest disrupts all those around her.

"...Previti's first novel is a lyrical contemplation of the circle of life and the immutability of human nature." - Kirkus Reviews




ISBN: 978-1-60489-213-7   Hardcover $17.00                 Sale $8.50

ISBN: 978-1-60489-212-9   Trade paper $10.00              Sale $5.00

318 Pages

  About the Author: 

 Zana Previti was born and raised in New England. She earned her MFA in fiction from the University of California, Irvine, and her MFA in poetry from the University of Idaho. Her work has been published in the New England Review, Hayden's Ferry Review, the American Poetry Review, Ninth Letter, and elsewhere. She was the recipient of Poetry International's 2014 C.P. Cavafy Prize for Poetry and the Fall 2016 Emerging Writer-in-Residence at Penn State Altoona. She is the author of the chapbook Providence (Finishing Line Press, 2017). 





Excerpt from the novel:


This is the village Chilling. 

It’s 1791. Thereabouts. Certainly not 1800, not yet. The ground is mud, because it is springtime, and the sky is dark, because it is nighttime. There have been problems in this village, recently. Men and women, merely days or hours dead, have been dug up—pulled, yanked, heaved, hoed—from their soft black soil beds. Their bodies have been dragged, their feet splayed, and the toes traced twin trenches past Smart Hale and Beddine Hale Asleep in the Lord, past James and Cotton Turner Eternal Rest, past the gravediggers’ shed and into the pebbly road.

It is a mist-laden, yawning New England springtime. The season is combing its hair, wiping the fog from the mirror and staring into its eyes. The world is beginning again.

Now, this very moment, in Chilling:

A newly-dead body is being carried from the graveyard. The body wears no shoes. The longest toe of the dead foot is not the first “big toe,” at all, but the slim elegant mid-toe, the index toe, the toe we would use to point out our bodysnatchers should we ever, through loss of our hands or voice, be relegated to pointing with our toes. Three toes, the littlest ones, have curled into the foot like a claw; their nails are greenish and black at the cuticle. The grime underneath each nail is hard like shale.

Though it is 1791, and though Chilling is a barely-existent coastal village, these dead toes are exactly like all dead toes. They are like your toes. They are like the dead toes of emperors and scientists and prophets. They are turning gray. They have lost their agency. They fall together like exhausted soldiers in a trench, leaning and lolling against one another. In their collapse they collide and bear the weight of the others. They cannot feel discomfort. They are neither cold nor wet. Death has made them impervious, stoic, capable beyond measure.