What if your doppelganger was the Nice One? Are they, really? And what about that weird door they came through? And what's with the sinking city? A compulsively readable scifi-thriller-horror mashup with a delightfully unreliable and unlikeable narrator.
Last to Leave the Room is a new novel of genre-busting speculative horror from Caitlin Starling, the acclaimed author of The Death of Jane Lawrence.
The city of San Siroco is sinking. The basement of Dr. Tamsin Rivers, the arrogant, selfish head of the research team assigned to find the source of the subsidence, is sinking faster.
As Tamsin grows obsessed with the distorting dimensions of the room at the bottom of the stairs, she finds a door that didn’t exist before - and one night, it opens to reveal an exact physical copy of her. This doppelgänger is sweet and biddable where Tamsin is calculating and cruel. It appears fully, terribly human, passing every test Tamsin can devise. But the longer the double exists, the more Tamsin begins to forget pieces of her life, to lose track of time, to grow terrified of the outside world.
As her employer grows increasingly suspicious, Tamsin must try to hold herself together long enough to figure out what her double wants from her, and just where the mysterious door leads…
Caitlin Starling writes horror-tinged speculative fiction of all flavors. Her first novel, The Luminous Dead, won the LOHF Best Debut Award and was nominated for both the Bram Stoker and Locus Awards. She is also the author of the gothic horror tales Yellow Jessamine and The Death of Jane Lawrence, as well as a novella in the Vampire: The Masquerade audio collection, Walk Among Us. Her nonfiction has appeared in Nightmare and Uncanny. Starling also works in narrative design, and has been paid to invent body parts. She’s always on the lookout for new ways to inflict insomnia.
"A taut, ominous gothic that plays with preconceptions of gender and genre alike. Starling illuminates her characters brilliantly, and isn't afraid of the dark corners behind them. This book runs like clockwork -- but it's unpredictable too, unnervingly so, like a machine finely calibrated to self-destruct. It reads like Shirley Jackson writing an episode of Severance." -- Isaac Fellman, author of Dead Collections and The Two Doctors Górski.
"A stylish and chilling technothriller, Last to Leave the Room had me rapt at every page. Starling once again succeeds with this tense, atmospheric tale of genius and hubris, one that will have readers question their sense of identity until the chilling end." -- Victor Manibo, author of The Sleepless
"No two Caitlin Starling books are the same, save for their intelligence, imagination, and compulsive readability. But with Last to Leave the Room, Starling has outdone herself. If, by the end of Chapter 3, you're not *desperate* to know what happens next, you're as baffling as non-Euclidean geometry." -- Nat Cassidy, author of Mary: An Awakening of Terror and Nestlings
"A mad-scientist cautionary tale cloaked in unflinching dread, to read this book is to creep down the basement stairs in the dark toward bone-deep uncertainty. Last to Leave the Room is a page-turning genre-buster, carefully plotted and deeply frightening, with unexpected heart. I loved every moment."
—Katrina Monroe, author of They Drown Our Daughters
"A bow-taut psychological thriller, a virtuoso science fiction tale, and above all an unsqueamish exploration of identity, ambition, cruelty and memory. It's a terrifying combination of tension and imagination that could only have come from the mind of Caitlin Starling -- no one else working in speculative fiction could have executed this with such style and confidence."
— Nebula award-winning author Premee Mohamed
"Caitlin Starling's Last to Leave the Room is a masterclass in narrative tension. This is a terrifyingly compelling work of scifi horror that was impossible to look away from, even when I wanted to read with my hands mostly covering my eyes."
—Kat Howard, Alex Award-winning author of An Unkindness of Magicians
"Last to Leave the Room is a singularly fascinating book. Starling is a genius for the horrors of the physical and the interpersonal, and this book marries those two unique nightmares brilliantly." --Sarah Gailey, award-winning author of Just Like Home
“Caitlin Starling’s Last to Leave the Room is a twisty, reality-warping powerhouse of a novel. Absolutely riveting!” -Jonathan Maberry, NY Times bestselling author of Kagen the Damned and Cave 13
"Last to Leave the Room is unpretentious and incredibly readable--the kind of book that monopolizes your attention until you realize you've missed your bus stop. I think I finished it in two sittings, and I had fun, despite the fact it tickles that deep and terrified part of our lizard brains that recognizes the instability of our own identities, and deeply resents all the other, better versions of ourselves we could've been. Also, I'm a sucker for gruesome eyeball stuff." - Hiron Ennes, author of Leech
"Part existential horror, part speculative fiction, and part paranoia tale, Starling’s latest thrills and chills while exploring the contextual nature of identity and the concept of personhood. Diabolical plotting, relentless pacing, and ascetic worldbuilding function in tandem with Starling’s staccato present-tense narration to maximize tension and drive. At once visceral and introspective.” - Kirkus, starred review
"Her most original, compelling, and terrifying novel yet.” - Booklist, starred review
“The action is pulse-pounding." - Publishers Weekly