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Tarry This Night

Tarry This Night

By Kristyn Dunnion
Categories: Women's Literature, Fiction
Paperback : 9781551527055, 264 pages, 2017
Read Excerpt (PDF)


A powerful dystopian novel set during a new American civil war, about a polygamist cult leader and his followers.

In this eerily relevant, cautionary novel, a civil war is brewing in America. Below ground, a cult led by the deluded and narcissistic Father Ernst is ensconced in an underground bunker, waiting out the conflict. When the "Family" runs out of food, Ruth, coming of age and terrified of serving as Ernst's next wife, must choose between obeying her faith and fighting for survival. Cousin Paul, sent topside to scavenge for food, may return with proof that it is safe for the Family to ascend again. But is it enough to invest all hope in Paul's unlikely return?

In this unsettling modern take on the Lilith tale, spirited women resist their violent, racist culture and, in so doing, become outlaws. Family members navigate a secretive and deadly arena where faith eschews autonomy and righteousness precludes mercy. With an unwavering eye, Tarry This Night dares to imagine the unthinkable that is present-day America, offering a place for resistance and hope for a new and better world.


  • Long-listed, Sunburst Award 2018


Like Dunnion's 2011 short story collection The Dirt Chronicles, this book champions outlaw culture without romanticizing it. If you're looking for a challenging but hopeful story to fill the bleak void after reading or binge-watching The Handmaid's Tale, this book is for you. -NOW Magazine

Beautifully written, both devastating and yet full of hope, Kristyn Dunnion's Tarry This Night is a lyrical tour de force, marrying horrifying family and religious dynamics within a post-apocalyptic landscape. -Sandra Kasturi, author of Come Late to the Love of Birds and The Animal Bridegroom

This carefully crafted, suspenseful novel is a reminder of just how awful things could get if we don't get our act together. -ROOM

Is it worse to be trapped in stone, or exiled to the open air? Is a stifling religion worse than the rudderless world outside? Kristyn Dunnion pries the lid off this hermetically-sealed community to look at life and death, within and without. Scary, convincing, entirely engrossing. -Marina Endicott, author of Good to a Fault and Close to Hugh

A vividly imagined dystopian novel. -Toronto Star

Tarry This Night imagines a world destroyed on both national and intimate scales. Dunnion shows us characters faced with the choice between surrendering their faith and repudiating their entire lives on the one hand, and physical destruction on the other. Yet in depicting the last days of the crumbling Family, the novel also reveals the potential for resistance, rebellion, and change. By showing the fragility of oppressive regimes and dystopian universes, Tarry This Night makes room for hope, even within the confines of its tense, psychological drama. -Lambda Literary

Kristyn Dunnion is an utterly glorious writer. The gothic lyricism of Tarry This Night not only secures her a place among the rising stars of genre-bridging literary fiction, it is a declarative staking-out of narrative territory that is uniquely hers. A superb, elegant read. -Michael Rowe, author of Wild Fell and Enter, Night

In a time when real life can feel like a dystopia, Tarry This Night reveals the fatherly face of bullying and repression. Kristyn Dunnion writes horror like no other author. She exposes the women who do the brutal work of supporting the system, then gives those same women a chance to enact change. -Emily Pohl-Weary, author of Not Your Ordinary Wolf Girl

A beautiful tale of female resistance . .. Tarry This Night is exactly the kind of story we need to remember what it means to endure despite the most dire circumstances. -THIS Magazine

Immediate and terrifying, Dunnion's fresh new narrative adds to the growing conversation about misogyny and freedom. A surefire hit for fans of Margaret Atwood's A Handmaid's Tale. -Booklist

Cults are fascinating. Whether it's obsessing over Charles Manson's killer cult or being entertained by the "family" at the center of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, we have a cultural investment in the origins of and crimes committed by cults. Kristyn Dunnion capitalizes on that fascination in her eerie novel, delivering one of the best books of 2017. -Bitch