Breed: A Novel
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Breed: A Novel

3.8 39
by Chase Novak

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Critically celebrated novelist Scott Spencer delivers a Rosemary's Baby-like novel of gothic horror, set against the backdrop of modern-day Upper East Side Manhattan.

Alex and Leslie Twisden lead charmed lives—fabulous careers, a luxurious home in Manhattan, a passionate marriage. What's missing is a child, and as they try one infertility


Critically celebrated novelist Scott Spencer delivers a Rosemary's Baby-like novel of gothic horror, set against the backdrop of modern-day Upper East Side Manhattan.

Alex and Leslie Twisden lead charmed lives—fabulous careers, a luxurious home in Manhattan, a passionate marriage. What's missing is a child, and as they try one infertility treatment after another desire becomes obsession. As a last-ditch attempt to make their dream of parenthood a reality, the Twisdens travel to Slovenia, where they undergo a painful procedure that gives them what they've so fervently wanted...but with awful consequences.

Ten years later, coddled and living in a house of secrets, the twins Adam and Alice find themselves locked into their rooms every night, with sounds coming from their parents' bedroom growing and more disturbing.

Desperate for answers, the twins set out on a quest to uncover the truth about the man and woman who raised them. What they discover will reveal a threat so terrible that it must be escaped, at any cost.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This violent page-turner had a big impact on my novel The First Bad Man, because it forced me to recognize that I wanted to write a thriller too - i.e., I wanted the reader to read quickly, with some urgency."—Miranda July, New York Times Book Review
Brian Truitt
"Forget vampires, zombies and guys clad in hockey masks brandishing oversized machetes. Chase Novak unleashes truly scary literary horror villains in BREED: Mom and Dad. Novak...explores what happens when one's parents aren't quite the protectors they should be in this excellent horror novel. He probes emotionally deep and heartbreaking themes of family and friendship that seem fresh in a book that's a bit like a mad-scientist movie-or Frankenstein if the monster decided he needed some kiddos in his life.... The kids escape their domestic prison, which shifts gears in BREED from a psychological tale to a high-stakes adventure where your fingers can't flip the pages fast enough.... BREED doesn't need love triangles, twist endings or aspects of a gore fest to keep an audience enraptured. Instead, it's the simple conceit-how do you love parents who do more harm than good?-and a moving ending that make Novak's horror novel a thrill to read."
Joe Meyers
"Although the phrase 'I couldn't put it down' is used promiscuously in book blurbs (and reviews) it isn't often that I am so caught up in a novel that I have to finish it before thinking about doing anything else. Of course, the pacing and length of a book plays a big role in this phenomenon-once I raced through the first 100 pages of BREED in record time, finishing off another 210 pages was a realistic goal before turning in for the night.... The in the set-ups that convince us we are in the 'real world' rather than some phony B-horror movie netherworld. We believe in the people we meet and the place where they live, so when ghastly things start happening, we have to know how the story will play out.... But the increasingly macabre and truly horrifying developments kept me in a vise-like grip.... BREED substitutes science for the religious mythology of Rosemary's Baby so it is, in some ways, more believable than the Ira Levin classic. Maybe too believable."
A.J. Kirby
"BREED is a daring, ultra-modern novel dealing with bleeding edge science and contemporary concerns. It's dark fiction, but not as we know it. An antidote to the anodyne paranormal romances, vampire horrors, and gory splatterfests littering the book charts, this is a truly original work. While transcending the modern, it also deals with universal themes populating literature since we first started telling stories around campfires. Ultimately, this is a novel about the dangers of science-bogus science in particular. It's a story of the Promethean folly of human beings. Written in urgent, vital prose that quickens the blood, it confronts. BREED is an intelligent, dark thriller dense with paranoia, yielding creative anxiety, a genetically modified rollercoaster."
Annalee Newitz
"...A delightfully nauseating read.... Chase Novak has hit upon the perfect blend of terrifying real-life topics.... [and] repurposed his literary flair for observation into grisly narrative schadenfreude.... There is a clever fable about class here, as the Twisdens' tumble down the evolutionary tree mirrors their fall down the economic ladder.... And it's the perfect dark fairy tale for these times, when more than a few readers might secretly find themselves wishing that the world's elites would be brought so low as to start pooping in their own posh living rooms."
Ken Salikof
"...A slice of shivering dread that won't allow you to look at in vitro fertilization, children running loose in Central Park or parents who find their children 'delicious' in the same way again."
"Smart and brutal, this joins the ranks of such elegant domestic shockers as Lionel Shriver's We Need to Talk about Kevin, John Ajvide Lindqvist's Let Me In, and Justin Evans' A Good and Happy Child."
Janet Maslin
"...A foray into urbane horror, chicly ghoulish, with a malevolent emphasis on family values.... BREED exploits the contrast between civilized and feral behavior. The grand furnishings of the Twisden homestead wind up clawed, chewed and torn as Alex and Leslie's conditions worsen; the cellar goes all Silence of the Lambs. And in a really fine set piece Mr. Spencer stages a long chase through the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where the relics of primitive times and the veneer of privilege always coexist.... If Mr. Spencer's name were not openly attached to BREED, it would still read like the work of a serious writer with keen antennas for sensory detail.... Above and beyond its fatality count BREED has originality on its side; the ending is a true shocker. The book sets out to convey what it is like to be 'subject to the whip and rattle of unspeakable temptations.' And it does."
The San Francisco Chronicle
"...Will remind horror connoisseurs of Rosemary's Baby, another Big Apple tale of parenthood gone horribly awry. What Spencer shares most with Ira Levin is a darkly droll sense of humor... [BREED] matches the earlier book's propulsive narrative and satirical edge."
Stephan Lee
"...Like a literary, contemporary version of Rosemary's Baby-a well-to-do Manhattan couple has everything they could possibly want, only they desperately want children. After trying everything treatment they can, they resort to a highly unusual procedure that's successful in that they conceive twins. But there are also some seriously nasty side-effects that lead to a creepy, bloody, hairy thrill ride."
Robin Abrahams
"Disturbing and funny and very visual..."
Stephen King
"The best horror novel I've read since Peter Straub's Ghost Story. By turns terrifying and blackly funny, BREED is a total blast."
"An honest-to-goodness page-turner."
Richard Price
"A page-turner, classic yet original, filled with detail both subtle and unforgettable, unnerving in its mad logic and genuinely frightening."
Russ Marshalek
"The definition of a literary horror novel."
Warren Ellis
"The most elegantly skin-crawling, gut-churning novel I've read in years."
Dennis Drabelle
"Diabolically entertaining.... Along with suspense and shocks, Novak delivers enough humor to make the mayhem palatable...with triumphant effect. The best American horror novel since Scott Smith's The Ruins, BREED is redolent of Roadl Dahl at his creepy best."
Sam Thielman
"There are passages during which BREED is really visceral."
David Abrams for Salon
"For all its Gothic horror pedigree, BREED is ultimately a smart commentary on modern parenting."

Product Details

Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

Chase Novak is the pseudonym of Scott Spencer. Spencer is the author of ten novels, including Endless Love, which has sold more than two million copies to date, and the National Book Award finalist A Ship Made of Paper. He has written for Rolling Stone, the New York Times, The New Yorker, GQ, and Harper's. BREED is his debut novel as Chase Novak.

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Breed: A Novel 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 39 reviews.
KimballSK More than 1 year ago
Breed is the story of the American Dream gone wrong, of having everything and it never being enough, of loving those who potentially hurt us the most, and ultimately of love conquering our darkest urges. I had heard amazing early buzz about Breed before BEA and I was so happy to receive a copy there. Let me tell you now, although Breed took some twists I didn't anticipate, I was by no means disappointed. I finished this book in one page-turning, hair-raising day and loved every minute of it. So, Alex and Leslie have a fairy tale romance. They love each other deeply, have great jobs, have more money and luxury than they could possibly need. They simply have it all...except...they want children, their own children and are unable to make them. Enter a last ditch effort at fertility through a shady connection and even more dubious doctor. Everything should work out just perfectly, right? Cut to ten years later and they have two beautiful twins Alice and Adam. They are gorgeous, brilliant, clever, loving...and being held prisoner in their beautiful Upper East Side home. In order to protect them from eminent danger, Alex and Leslie lock the twins up every night without fail. Leaving the adults to continue their descent into evil while keeping their precious darlings safe. The chase is on as Alice and Adam search for answers about themselves and try to save themselves from certain death. Breed is not for the faint of heart. (Pet lovers in particular, be prepared.) It is gory, messy and disturbing in all of the best ways. The mystery is compelling and the stakes are high. After finishing Breed I had two distinct thoughts: 1. This would make a great movie and 2. This book needs a sequel. As far as the first thought goes, it remains to be seen, but is probably very likely. And about that second thought, Breed didn't immediately scream sequel to me (I thought it was a stand alone novel) and the ending is not a desperate cliff-hanger (although very shocking). Breed stands very well on its own, but I wanted to know more. More about the minor characters, more about the fates of Adam and Alice, more about the impact of this fertility treatment on the rest of the world. Well, friends, my wishes are coming true. According to the NY Times, Chase Novak (AKA award-winning writer, Scott Spencer) has said he is indeed planning a sequel, Brood. I, for one, can't wait!
tamsparks More than 1 year ago
Breed has been compared to Rosemary’s Baby, but if anything, it’s the opposite: innocent children are born to monstrous parents. Leslie and Alex Twisden are an affluent couple living in an immense townhouse in Manhattan, and have everything money can buy, except for one thing: a child. After countless fertility procedures and thousands of dollars, the Twisden’s are desperate and will do anything to conceive. One day they run into a couple they know from a support group. The wife, Jill, is hugely pregnant. Alex manages to talk the couple into giving up their secret, and before long, Leslie and Alex are on a plane to a small town in Slovenia to meet with a Dr. Kis, the miracle worker behind Jill’s pregnancy. Although Leslie is worried about the filthy doctor’s office and the wild and unkempt Dr. Kis, Alex convinces her to submit to some very painful injections. Back in their hotel room, the couple discovers they are ravenous for each other, and spend a long and unbridled night in bed together, during which Leslie conceives. But the couple’s joy begins to dwindle when they start to notice changes to their bodies: hair that grows in strange places and an insatiable appetite for red meat. Leslie’s pregnancy only lasts five months, at which time twins Adam and Alice are born. The story abruptly fast forwards to ten years later, as Adam and Alice have begun to realize just how dangerous their family is. The twins, who have been locked in their rooms every night for the past ten years, decide to run away. What follows is an extended chase scene through the streets of New York and Central Park as the children run for their lives. Novak has a perfect writing style for horror, and the horror in Breed is the kind that grows so gradually that it literally bludgeons you over the head when you aren’t looking. His writing is gorgeous and lyrical, and not the sort of writing one usually encounters in a horror novel. This lulls the reader into believing that things maybe aren’t so bad. But then the bad stuff inevitably arrives, and the reader is knocked out. Each horrific detail is absurdly and gleefully rendered. I’ve read my share of graphic and bloody horror, and I can tell you I wasn’t quite prepared for some of the scenes in this book. But the violence isn’t thrown in randomly. It’s calculated to illustrate just how horrible those fertility injections were, and it didn’t feel out-of-place at all. I loved the parallel between the parent’s descent into madness and the way their house gradually loses its shine. Every aspect of the story falls into disrepair as Leslie and Alex lose their humanity. I found myself sympathizing with them, even after witnessing the horrible things they do. Leslie and Alex truly want to be good parents and love their children, but there are circumstances beyond their control that prevent them from doing so. Breed accomplishes what the best horror stories set out to do: it makes us fearful about the most normal and mundane aspects of being human. It poses the questions “How badly do you really want to have children?” and “What happens when you can’t trust the adults who are raising you?” Its underlying message could be this: having children will ruin your life. If you are pregnant, and especially if you are trying to get pregnant, Breed might not be your best choice of reading material. But if you are looking for a beautifully written and terrifying piece of work, take my advice and grab a copy as soon as possible.
Dukewife More than 1 year ago
One very scary book.  Saw it recommended by Stephen King and he knows his scary!!  Such a quick read because you gotta know what's going to happen!
steffiebaby140 More than 1 year ago
As much as I was looking forward to this book, by the end I hated it. No, hated it not a strong enough word. I loathed this book. This book was a perfect example of a great idea that was executed terribly. ***Warning: From this point forward this review may contain spoilers. Stop reading now to remain unspoiled.*** The basic premise of this was intriguing. An affluent couple who is so desperate to have a child that they travel to an unknown part of the world to have an unknown procedure performed on them. Here is where I ran into my first problem. At one point Leslie decides not to go through with the procedure. I can’t argue with her, she’s in a country she’s never heard of, in a filthy office, about to be injected by a weird doctor with something and the doctor won’t tell her what it is. She starts hollering and the doctor orders her husband from the room…and he complies! For all he knows they are holding her down and injecting her against her will! I was furious on her behalf. But then I got furious with her. She just lets it go and proceeds on their lives together, including having sex with him that same day! I would have gotten a good divorce lawyer before I was out the door of the office after beaning the doctor in his skull with my foot! So that bothered me. Another huge problem I had with the beginning of the story was the POV. It was written in third person omniscient. So it basically read like a news report. We would see what was happening and how it happened. But we’d have no idea why it happened, what they thought or felt about what happened, or any of the details that make you care about the characters. For that reason I found that I didn’t really care about Leslie or Alex because the only things I could see about them were ignorant, selfish, and horrendously stupid. After the twins are born the POV shifts to third person close, which was slightly better than before but by that point I just didn’t care. I didn’t care about the characters, I didn’t care about the plot, I wanted something to happen. Yeah yeah, I get it the parents are monsters now. Gotcha, now let’s do something with it. What they did was that the twins ran away and spent most of the book running from their parents. Along the way they discover other kids that are like them and who have parents like them. Apparently there are hundreds of these people wandering around and yet…no one else in the world has noticed. We also learn a little bit about the original doctor and what was in the original shots. I was excited about that and expected this story to become a quest for answers. But it didn’t. We were still on some stupid chase from the parents which was boring and starting to drag. And THEN we go on a quest for answers back to the original doctor. All I could think was, “Why did no one think of this in the last 10 years?” But even that proved worthless because there were no answers to be had. The plot never went anywhere and then you reached the end and realized that you had spent several hundred pages on a pointless quest for nothing. This plot had so much potential and all of it was squandered. When I reached the end of the book I was mostly relieved that it was over. I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone. All that you’ll gain from it is feeling vaguely nauseous and then being angry that there was no pay off for the grossness.
lindafaye More than 1 year ago
Good plot line but a little too explicit for my taste. Hard to read if you're an animal lover
Here_Be_Bookwyrms More than 1 year ago
"...When I read the description of this book on LibraryThing Early Reviewers and requested a copy, it sounded to me like a straight-up werewolf novel. I thought maybe the parents and/or the kids are werewolves, and they terrorize Manhattan and yadda yadda yadda. But no. Well, okay, there is some terrorizing going on, but it did not play out even remotely in any of the ways I expected...the pace of the book is fairly constant. I don't think I felt it ever slowed down, and since things aren't exactly resolved at the end, I still have a lingering sense of uncertainty and maybe a little dread. I think fans of Stephen King would probably not be disappointed with Chase Novak and Breed." (For full review, please visit me at Here Be Bookwyrms on Blogger)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book very much. It was graphic in details making it that much more vivid
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you really want your steadfast heart's desire, be careful because you might get a lot more than you realize. This is an excellent story about just that very thing. A real gripping, ' got to see what happens next ' book. I highly recommend it.
Anonymous 7 months ago
The Savannah breed can jump to 7 feet. It i the largest domestic cat. It weighs up to 30 pounds. It was created by breeding the Serbal wild cat from Africa with a domestic cat. Many states see this breed as a wild animal. It is illegal in Georgia, Massachusetts, Hawaii and New york. To buy one be ready to spend over twenty thousand. This is becaus they are hard to breed and contraversal. That means their gene pool is little. Their hiss is like that belonging to a snake. Serbals do the snake hiss to sound more threatning. It has long legs and gretaly looks like a wild cat.
ScifiandScary More than 1 year ago
Breed is one of the more unique horror stories I’ve read. Generally, when someone goes the pregnancy bent, they tend to focus on the child being possessed or some such. Chase Novak, AKA Scott Spencer, makes it clear almost immediately that that is not the direction he’s choosing to take. Instead, he plays upon society’s fears of genetic manipulation and the possible consequences associated with it, and proceeds to send the readers spiraling through a story with morbid fascination and disgust. The one truly horrifying aspect of it is more psychological than anything else.The rest of the reactions he draws from the reader are mild-to-moderate at best. An interesting premise, Breed had the possibility to really stand out and be a story you’d remember for ages. Unfortunately, the writing just isn’t strong/interesting enough to pull it off, and you find yourself never really getting connecting with the characters you’re supposed to root for.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
tpolen More than 1 year ago
Chase Novak is a pseudonym for Scott Spencer and I'm totally giving away my age here, but I read Spencer's book, Endless Love, in high school.  Obviously, this is nothing like Endless Love. This book was just okay for me.  I initially liked Alex and Leslie and sympathized with them in their quest to have children, but as the story progressed, for reasons I can't state without giving anything away, I disconnected with them and really didn't have much to grab onto after that.  After the first few chapters, the story flashed forward ten years, when twins Adam and Alice are introduced and it seemed abrupt to me to be dropped in the middle of their young lives.  Given their circumstances, I really would have liked some background on what happened during those ten years.  It felt like a chunk of the story was missing.   The story was fast-paced until the end, then it seemed to drag on a bit and was a little predictable.  Be warned, Breed isn't for the faint of heart and parts of this book are just plain repulsive and disgusting, but for some reason, I still felt compelled to finish it.  The sequel, Brood, is out now, but will I read it?  I'm undecided.   I think Breed had the potential to be more, but some elements just didn't seem to click or were missing. This is a book I'd only recommend to true horror fans.  This review is based on a digital copy from the publisher through NetGalley.      
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I did not like this book at all.I read it based on the great reviews people wrote and must say this book did not deliver anything great.Not at all like stephen king or Rosemarys baby.
Adrienna More than 1 year ago
The book was a bit a bore, and took about 35+ pages to get an interest, when they were advised to check out Dr. Kis in Slovenia, who does a procedure to get women pregnant...goby (fish). And the whole thing gets fishy when Mr. Johnson leaves his job, his residency, and no return address or phone number. This is the same person who told Alex about his wife getting pregnant with child when everything else failed. Alex and Leslie Twisden become concerned and possibly scared after seeing slight changes with their body chemistry, unusual hair growth, and other sudden physical changes after the procedure has taken place. All the way to Slovenia, no one procedure would have been suffice, what has happened to them in order to have twin children? Now the mystery begins. Sadly there was not a good ending. I think I will send a copy to my dad to read since he sends me books all the time. I hope he enjoys it but more a SYFY guy. *I won a copy from Goodreads Contest Wins about a month ago. Adrienna Turner, author of The Day Begins with Christ
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sheltisebastian More than 1 year ago
The best horror novel I have read in a long time!!! Very well written.
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