Such a Pretty Smile: A Novel

Such a Pretty Smile: A Novel

by Kristi DeMeester
Such a Pretty Smile: A Novel

Such a Pretty Smile: A Novel

by Kristi DeMeester


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One of Goodreads Most Popular Horror of 2022

Named one of Esquire's Best Horror of the Year

"Brutal and shocking." - emily m. danforth

“Razor-sharp. This one will cut you.” - Christopher Golden

In this biting and electrifying novel from bold horror talent Kristi DeMeester, there’s something out there that’s murdering young women—until an overwhelmed mother and her secretive daughter refuse to live without answers any longer.

He’s known as The Cur, and he leaves no trace—except for the victims he most viciously slays every fifteen years. Young women who refuse to conform and don’t know when to shut up.

2019: Thirteen-year-old Lila Sawyer has secrets she can’t share with anyone. But when young women around her begin dying, wild speculation ensues. Soon Lila feels haunted from within, terrorized by a delicious evil that shows her how to find her voice—until she’s in danger for using it.

2004: Caroline Sawyer sees dogs everywhere that no one else seems to notice. As these snarling, teeth-bared delusions begin to take shape in the sculptures she makes in a trance-like state, her fiancé is convinced she needs help from a professional. But Caroline’s past is a dark cellar, filled with repressed memories and a lurking horror that others around her can’t understand.

As past and present demons converge, Caroline and Lila must chase the source of the unrelenting, oppressive power to its core. Brilliantly paced and unapologetically fierce, Such a Pretty Smile will make you want to stand up and rage at everyone who ever told you to shut up and smile pretty.

"Compulsive and horrifyingly entertaining." - Liz Nugent

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250274212
Publisher: St. Martin's Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/18/2022
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 507,396
Product dimensions: 9.30(w) x 6.30(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

KRISTI DEMEESTER is the author of Beneath, a novel published by Word Horde Publications, and Everything That’s Underneath, a short fiction collection from Apex Books. Her short fiction has appeared in publications such as Ellen Datlow's The Year's Best Horror Volume 9, 11, and 12; and Stephen Jones' Best New Horror, Year’s Best Weird Fiction Volumes 1, 3, and 5; in addition to publications such as Pseudopod, Black Static, Fairy Tale Review, and several others. In her spare time, she alternates between telling people how to pronounce her last name and how to spell her first.

Reading Group Guide

SUCH A PRETTY SMILE Discussion Questions

1. Such a Pretty Smile changes in both time period, setting, and point of view throughout the novel. How did these shifting perspectives change your feelings about the personal lives of Lila and Caroline? How did it change your feelings about the events surrounding The Cur? Is there one character or time period that resonated with you particularly? Why?

2. Three central characters—Lila, Caroline, and Beth—are all labeled as girls or women who will not conform. What are some other ways you have witnessed marginalized people being silenced or targeted for not conforming? What steps can we take to stop such actions and prevent them from going forward?

3. Examine Lila and Caroline’s relationship. Were you able to see connections from Caroline in 2019 to Caroline in 2004? How did Caroline change over the years? Do you think she was there for Lila in the ways she needed to be?

4. Put yourself in Caroline’s father’s shoes. How would you have handled the aftermath of the trauma Caroline faced when she was first taken by The Cur? Would you have done anything differently?

5. How does Caroline’s art represent what she’s feeling? What do you think her art might have looked like had she not been abducted as a child?

6. Such a Pretty Smile is more than just a horror novel—it is about how women are gaslighted, abused, victimized, and shamed by the patriarchy as a way to keep anyone who isn’t male, white, cisgender, and heterosexual under their control. How do the various psychiatrists—especially Caroline’s—prop up these societal methods of control? How does Daniel? Are there any other characters who were surprising villains to you? Were there any surprising allies?

7. Lila, Caroline, and Beth each struggle against being silenced, and against being targeted by The Cur. What are their differences in the ways they handle these struggles? What are the similarities?

8. At any point, were you able to predict who was behind The Cur’s attacks, or what The Cur represented?

9. Do you feel that Lila and Caroline were able to reclaim some power in their final scenes together?

10. How did the end of the novel make you feel? Angry? Hopeful? Fearful? Inspired? How does the end of the book also feeling like a beginning? Does this affect your interpretation and feelings about the events that occurred?

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