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Cover Reveal: THE SMALLER EVIL by Stephanie Kuehn

I’m so excited to finally be able to share a bit about my next novel, forthcoming in August 2016 from Dutton. Not only does it have a gorgeous cover, but it also has a new title—one that brilliantly captures the tension of the book as well as the boy at the heart of all its mysteries.

The Smaller Evil isn't a story about truth. It's a story about relationships and abandonment, shame and illness, intimacy and betrayal. It’s about the ways we depend on others to affirm our sense of independence and how our truest selves are fundamentally determined by those around us—even when that’s a notion we try very hard to resist.

I love the image for this book that the designers at Dutton have created. It's evocative. It's bold. The coiled chameleon tail with its changing color is the perfect metaphor, not of camouflage, but of the power and paradox of evolution. We all adapt to meet our needs, and whether that’s selfish or sane, evil or pragmatic, to believe any of us do otherwise is simply a lie.

Sometimes the greater good requires the smaller evil.

17-year-old Arman Dukoff is struggling with severe anxiety and a history of self-loathing when he arrives at an expensive self-help retreat in the remote hills of Big Sur. He’s taken a huge risk—and two-thousand dollars from his meth-head stepfather—for a chance to "evolve," as Beau, the retreat leader, says.

Beau is complicated. A father figure? A cult leader? A con man? Arman's not sure, but more than anyone he's ever met, Beau makes Arman feel something other than what he usually feels—worthless.

The retreat compound is secluded in coastal California mountains among towering redwoods, and when the iron gates close behind him, Arman believes for a moment that he can get better. But the program is a blur of jargon, bizarre rituals, and incomprehensible encounters with a beautiful girl. Arman’s certain he's failing at everything. But Beau disagrees; he thinks Arman has a bright future—though he never says at what.

And then, in an instant Arman can't believe or totally recall, Beau is gone. Suicide? Or murder? Arman was the only witness and now the compound is getting tense. And maybe dangerous.

As the mysteries and paradoxes multiply and the hints become accusations, Arman must rely on the person he's always trusted the least: himself.  

Advance praise for The Smaller Evil
"The Smaller Evil, with an engaging main character, precise, vivid writing and a continuous rushing train of tensions, is a captivating thriller." —2015 PEN/Phyllis Reynolds Naylor Working Writer Fellowship Judges

Available August 2, 2016
Stephanie Kuehn

Stephanie is the William C. Morris award-winning author of Charm & Strange, Complicit, Delicate Monsters, and The Smaller Evil.

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Item Reviewed: Cover Reveal: THE SMALLER EVIL by Stephanie Kuehn Rating: 5 Reviewed By: stephanie kuehn