Nicholas Fonseca
January 31, 2005 AT 05:00 AM EST

Josie and Jack

Current Status
In Season
Kelly Braffet
Mariner Books

We gave it an A

Like Zeus and Hera, Hansel and Gretel, and, heck, Six Feet Under’s Billy and Brenda, the titular Raeburn siblings of this thrilling debut are inexorably entwined in a deadly waltz of pain, codependency, and tragedy. In a crumbling hilltop mansion, sociopathic Jack numbs his pliant little sis with booze and drugs as he makes troublesome demands; Josie plays along because their rageful professor father won’t give her the time of day. (”We’re not really an open-to-the-public kind of family,” she explains, and, boy, is she right.) Twisted circumstances bring them to Manhattan, where they meet and mooch from party girl Lily, and then things get ugly. Because Kelly Braffet throws the reader into their gloomy world with such economical verve, the sadistic, violent climax comes as no surprise. What shocks about Josie and Jack, however, is how unwittingly moved you’ll be by the saga of these misguided, mistreated misfits.

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