A shattering childhood tragedy leftQuentin Fears devastated and unable tocope with the world and its citizens. It didn't,however, prevent him from making millions throughbrilliant investments. And now the enigmatic recluse has experienced the extraordinarily unexpected: love at first sight.
But a whirlwind courtship and marriage to Madeleine beautiful, witty, and equally ill-at-ease with reality is bringing Quentin something other than the bliss he anticipated, for now he must meet his new wife's family.
A bizarre, dysfunctional collection of extreme characters, they are guarding a secret both shocking and terrifying as is Madeleine herself. And suddenly Quentin Fears must prevent his dream woman from unleashing an ageless malevolence intent on ruling the world.
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About the Author
Orson Scott Card has won several Hugo and Nebula Awards for his works of speculative fiction, among them the Ender series and The Tales of Alvin Maker. He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife and four children.
Hometown:Greensboro, North Carolina
Date of Birth:August 24, 1951
Place of Birth:Richland, Washington
Education:B.A. in theater, Brigham Young University, 1975; M.A. in English, University of Utah, 1981
Read an Excerpt
Quentin Fears never told his parents the last thing his sister Lizzy said to him before they pulled the plug on her and let her die.
For three days after the traffic accident, Lizzy lay in a coma, her body hosed, piped, pumped, probed, measured, medicated and fed so the doctors could keep her organs in good condition for transplant, while Mom and Dad struggled with the question of whether she was really dead.
Not that they had any doubts. The doctors showed them the flat lines of Lizzy's brainwaves. The doctors reverently assured the Fearses that if there were the tiniest spark of a hope that Lizzy was actually alive inside that bandaged head, they would cling to that hope and do all in their power to revive her. But there was hope only for the people whose lives might be saved by Lizzy's organs, and then only if they could harvest them before they deteriorated. Mom and Dad nodded, tears streaming down their faces, and believed.
But eleven-year-old Quentin did not believe the doctors. He could see that Lizzy was alive. He could see how the huge bruise reached out from under the bandages, blackening Lizzy's eyes; he watched the bruise change over the three days of the coma, and he knew she was alive. Dead people's bruises didn't change like that. And Lizzy's hands were warm and flexible. Dead people had cold, stiff hands. The machines that measured brainwaves weren't infallible. And who was to say there wasn't something deeper than the electrical activity of the brain?
"Quen understands about brain death," said Dad to one of the doctors late on the first day of her coma. He spoke softly, perhaps thinking Quentin was asleep."You don't have to talk down to him."
The doctor murmured something even softer. Maybe it began as an apology, but it ended more as a question, a doubt, a demand.
Whatever it was the doctor said, Dad answered, "He and Lizzy were very close."
Quentin murmured his correction: "We are close."
It was just a word. A slip of the tongue. Only it meant that Dad had given up. She was already dead in his mind.
The men moved out into the corridor to continue their conversation. That happened more and more in the hours and days that followed. Quentin knew they were out there plotting how to get him out of the way. He knew that everything any grown-up said to him was bent to that purpose. Grandpa and Grammy Fears came to see him, and then Nanny Say, Mom's mom, but all conversations seemed to come to the same end. "Come on home, dear, and let Lizzy rest."
"Let them murder her, you mean."
And then they'd burst into tears and leave the room and Dad and Mom would come in and there'd be another fight in which Quentin would look them in the eye and saynot screaming, because Lizzy had told him years ago that screaming just made adults think of you as a child and then you'd never get any respecthe would look them in the eye and say whatever would stop them, whatever would make them leave the room with Lizzy still alive on the bed and Quentin still standing guard beside her.
"If you drug me, if you drag me out of here, if you murder her in my sleep, I will hate you for it for the rest of my life. I will never, never, never, never, never . . . "
"We get the idea," said Dad, his voice like ice.
"Never, never, never, never, never . . . "
Mom pleaded with him. "Please don't say it, Quen."
"Never forgive you."
This last time the scene played out, on the third day of the coma, Mom rushed crying from the room, out to the corridor where her own mother was already in tears from what Quentin had said to her. Dad was left alone with him in Lizzy's room.
"This isn't about Lizzy anymore," said Dad. "This is about you getting your own way. Well, you're not going to get your own way on this, Quentin Fears, because there's no one on God's green earth who has the power to give it to you. She's dead. You're alive. Your mother and I are alive. We'd like to be able to grieve for our little girl. We'd like to be able to think of her the way she was, not tubed up like this. And while we're at it, we'd like our son back. Lizzy meant a lot to you. Maybe it feels like she meant everything to you and if you let go of her there'll be nothing left. But there is something left. There's your life. And Lizzy wouldn't have wanted you to"
"Don't tell me what Lizzy would have wanted," said Quentin. "She wanted to be alive, that's what she wanted."
"Do you think your mother and I don't want that too?" Dad's voice barely made a sound and his eyes were wet.
"Everybody wants her dead except for me."
Quentin could see that it took all of Dad's self-control not to hit him, not to rage back at him. Instead Dad left the room, letting the door slam shut behind him. And Quentin was alone with Lizzy.
He wept into her hand, feeling the warmth of it despite the needle dripping some fluid into a vein, despite the tape that held the needle on, despite the coldness of the metal tube of the bedrail against his forehead. "Oh, God," said Quentin. "Oh, God."
He never said that, not the way the other kids did. Oh God when the other team gets a home run. Oh God when somebody says something really stupid. Jesus H. Christ when you bump your head. Quentin wasn't raised that way. His parents never swore, never said God or Jesus except when they were talking religion. And so when Quentin's own mouth formed the words, it couldn't be that he was swearing like his friends. It had to be a prayer. But what was he praying for? Oh God, let her live? Could he even believe in that possibility? Like the Sunday school story, Jesus saying to Jairus, "She isn't dead, the little girl is only sleeping"? Even in the story they laughed him to scorn.
Quentin wasn't Jesus and he knew he wasn't praying for her to rise from the dead. Well, maybe he was but that would be a stupid prayer because it wasn't going to happen. What then? What was he praying for? Understanding? Understanding of what? Quentin understood everything. Mom and Dad had given up, the doctors had given up, everybody but him. Because they all "understood." Well, Quentin didn't want to understand.
Quentin wanted to die. Not die too because he wasn't going to think of Lizzy dying or especially of her already being dead. No, he wanted to die instead. A swap, a trade. Oh God, let me die instead. Put me on this bed and let her go on home with Mom and Dad. Let it be me they give up on. Let it be my plug they pull. Not Lizzy's.
Then like a dream he saw her, remembered her alive. Not the way she looked only a few days ago, fifteen years old, the Saturday morning her friend Kate took her joyriding even though neither of them had a license and Kate spun the car sideways into a tree and a branch came through the open passenger window like the finger of God and poked twenty inches of bark and leaves right through Lizzy's head and Kate sat there completely unharmed except for Lizzy's blood and brains dripping from the leaves onto her shoulder. Quentin didn't see Lizzy with dresses and boys who wanted to take her out and a makeup kit on her side of the bathroom sink. What Quentin saw in his dream of her was the old Lizzy, his best friend Lizzy whose body was as lean as a boy's, Lizzy who was really his brother and his sister, his teacher and his confidante. Lizzy who always understood everything and guided him past the really dumb mistakes of life and made him feel like everything was safe, if you were just smart and careful enough. Lizzy on a skateboard, teaching him how to walk it up the steps onto the porch, "Only don't let Mom see you or she'll have a conniption because she thinks every little thing we do is going to get us killed."
Well it can get you killed, Lizzy. You didn't know everything. You didn't know every damn thing, did you! You didn't know you had to watch out for a twig reaching into the open window of your car and punching a hole in your brain. You stupid! You stupid stupid . . .
"Mellow out," Lizzy said to him.
He didn't open his eyes. He didn't want to know whether it was Lizzy speaking through those lips, out from under that heavy bandage, or merely Lizzy speaking in the dream.
"I wasn't stupid, it was just the way things happen sometimes. Sometimes there's a twig and there's a car and they're going to intersect and if there's a head in the way, well ain't that too bad."
"Kate shouldn't have been driving without her license."
"Well, aren't you the genius, you think I haven't figured that out by now? What do you imagine I'm doing, lying here in this bed, except going over and over all the moments when I could have said no to Kate? So let me tell you right now, don't you dare blame her, because I could have said no, and she wouldn't have done it. We went joyriding because I wanted to as much as she did and you can bet she feels lousy enough so don't you ever throw it up in her face, do you understand me, you tin-headed quintuplet?"
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Unreal characters and a catalogue of events without much story
This book was kind of a surprise for me. I love Orson Scott Card\'s works so much that I will read just about anything from him without looking at the jacket notes. I didn\'t realized that he had expanded into horror, still it kept my interest without being overly sensational or gory.
Good. Gripping. Hard to put down. Nice plot. Liked it more than I should have, because of the tone, originality.
The Treasure Box was not what I expected at all. And such a great read because of that! I'm hooked on author Card for good now!!
wow. thats all, wow.
Very good story! Loved the book.
this book is great i couldn't put it down
This was a great read. I did not know what to expect and it sure threw me for a loop. If the idea of a haunted house meets X Files sounds interesting, you may enjoy this book. The characters are spot on and as usual, Orson Scott Card made me think and reflect. I do not have any criticisms of the book.