The Eden Test
Since the beginning of time, man’s been tempted by forbidden fruit – afforded a choice between right and wrong. Choose right and enjoy the fruits of your labor . . . choose wrong and suffer the consequences.
In Adam Sternbergh’s The Eden Test, a couple confronts a crisis. Should they forsake all others and fight for their marriage ’till death do they part? Or give in to temptation with another bite of forbidden fruit, dooming their marriage and souls forever? Daisy and Craig each made bad choices in the past. The Eden Test Retreat is their chance to make the right choice . . . if they survive.
Daisy’s an actress who shuns the spotlight, careful to keep her face off social media for reasons unknown to all but her. A desperate woman and wife harboring deadly secrets, she has to know if she can trust her serial cheater husband Craig when the going gets perilous. What’ll he do if faced with an “or else” ultimatum? Will he fight for her? Daisy needs answers and after coming across an advertisement for a couples’ marital retreat called The Eden Test, she jumps at the opportunity to sign them up. The Edenic Foundation guarantees results if couples follow their plan. Seven days alone in a remote upstate New York cabin. Seven questions that force couples to reflect on their flawed marriage and reconnect with their inner feelings. Forever changed.
Craig is fuming when he comes home from work to find Daisy’s note directing him to drive to a remote cabin – an anniversary surprise she says. Daisy doesn’t know Craig’s prepared to tell her their marriage is over, after which he’ll board a plane for Caro with his hot, young mistress. Daisy’s waiting at the cabin . . . and tomorrow, Lilith will be waiting at the airport. What’s a man to do? Craig figures after three years of marriage, he owes Daisy a face to face kiss off so he reluctantly makes the harrowing drive to the cabin. Upon arrival, Craig finds it harder than expected to deliver his rehearsed breakup speech, and the longer he postpones confessing to Daisy, the more he second guesses his decision to leave. Maybe he’ll stay a day or so and see what happens. What Craig doesn’t yet understand is Daisy has secrets of her own – ones that fuel the chaos erupting around them when bizarre things begin occurring. Strange noises in the woods, dead animals left as calling cards, threats intensifying from volatile locals . . . and their own lies and secrets oozing out. Suddenly, their peaceful retreat turns into their worst nightmare.
A week in paradise quickly mutates into a fight for their lives with all the creepy vibes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. I swear I could hear the Hitchcock opening theme music, Funeral March of a Marionette, sounding warnings in my head as its ill-boding strain resonates throughout the last half of The Eden Test. A malicious undertone permeates every page as the action accelerates until what starts as a fight for their marriage turns into a battle for their lives. Sternbergh’s delivery is razor sharp and precise with descriptive imagery that brings a beautiful location to life before it morphs into a somber, menacing setting they may not survive. As this couples’ situation turns dire, the action swells and I burned through pages seeking answers.
I highly recommend the audio version of The Eden Test rendered by Carlotta Brendan as it’s the perfect way to become fully immersed in this story. Her voice breathes life into the characters, enhancing the sense of urgency as events snowball out of control. Dual points of view allow readers in both characters’ minds, revealing critical backstory as well as the hidden intentions of Craig and Daisy. They can lie to each other . . . but not to readers.
The Eden Test is smart, witty and highly entertaining from cover to cover. Sternbergh brilliantly delivers a propulsive, unique, tension laden thriller that this reader couldn’t put down. Highly recommended to fans of domestic suspense and suspense thrillers. The Eden Test is one of my 2023 favorites.
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