Whether she's working in general or genre fiction, Joyce Carol Oates has rarely shied away from the darker aspects of human nature. In Daddy Love, her first full-length novel for Mysterious Press, she explores the all-too-common parental nightmare of a child's abduction by a predatory stranger.
Dinah Whitcomb's five-year-old son, Robbie, is ripped from her hands in a mall parking lot by con artist Chet Cash. It's not the first time Cash, who refers to himself as "Daddy Love," has spotted a young boy he decides is meant to be his and takes him. At his old farm in rural New Jersey, he will keep this child, whom he renames Gideon, as isolated as possible, and raise him as he has raised several other boys before. Several years later, this boy will no longer appeal to Daddy Love, and he will be discarded just as his predecessors were. Back in Michigan, Dinah Whitcomb slowly recovers from the severe injuries she sustained in trying to stop her son's kidnapper, and the years pass with no news of Robbie.
Oates has a particular gift for pulling readers into stories they really don't want to read. Daddy Love's subject matter makes it difficult to get through at times, but the storytelling makes it even more difficult to put down; while graphic in spots, it's even more evocative when Oates leaves things to our imagination. This is a dark, fast-paced, deeply unsettling parental fairy tale. --Florinda Pendley Vasquez, blogger at The 3 R's Blog: Reading, 'Riting, and Randomness