The Job of the Wasp
A new arrival at an isolated school for orphaned boys quickly comes to realize there is something wrong with his new home. He hears chilling whispers in the night, his troubled classmates are violent and hostile, and the Headmaster sends cryptic messages, begging his new charge to confess. As the new boy learns to survive on the edges of this impolite society, he starts to unravel a mystery at the school's dark heart. And that’s when the corpses start turning up.A coming-of-age tale, a Gothic ghost story, and an obsessive murder mystery all-in-one, The Job of the Wasp is a bloodcurdling and brilliantly subversive novel about paranoia, love, and the nightmare of adolescence.

The Job of the Wasp Details

TitleThe Job of the Wasp
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJan 9th, 2018
PublisherSoft Skull Press
ISBN-139781593766801
Rating
GenreMystery, Horror, Fiction, Gothic, Fantasy, Thriller, Mystery Thriller

The Job of the Wasp Review

  • Blair
    January 1, 1970
    Right from the start, The Job of the Wasp is utterly disquieting. Everything about it just feels somehow off, though it's difficult to put your finger on exactly what the problem is. Perhaps it's the fact that the story is ostensibly narrated by a boy at boarding school, but nothing about the narrative voice sounds like any child or teenager you have ever encountered. Perhaps it's that the time period and geographical setting are so unclear. Perhaps it's even that the title and inexplicably unse Right from the start, The Job of the Wasp is utterly disquieting. Everything about it just feels somehow off, though it's difficult to put your finger on exactly what the problem is. Perhaps it's the fact that the story is ostensibly narrated by a boy at boarding school, but nothing about the narrative voice sounds like any child or teenager you have ever encountered. Perhaps it's that the time period and geographical setting are so unclear. Perhaps it's even that the title and inexplicably unsettling cover don't seem to say anything about the story.I was slightly inaccurate just now in referring to the setting a boarding school. To be more precise, it is (according to the Headmaster) 'a temporary holding facility with mandatory educational elements'. After the first page, our narrator – who lacks a name himself – only ever calls it 'the facility'. The Headmaster keeps reminding the narrator that the latter's presence means the facility is 'one person beyond capacity'. The narrator hears laughter outside his bedroom window during the night. He's bigger than the other boys, which leads to a long, borderline-farcical conversation about the bagginess of trousers. He seems to be disliked by his fellow residents (plus he can barely tell them apart), and his discussions with the Headmaster lead to existential monologues like this: 'It's either that I'm scared of everything at night,' I explained, 'or, underneath my daily habits, I am in a state of constant fear obscured by the action of the day, so that as I lie in bed and the rest of the world grows quiet, that general state of fear moves to the front of my mind at a similar rate, grafting onto one subject after another—what I might be hearing outside my window, why there is no moon visible through the glass when, by my calculations, there should be, what another boy in the facility might someday do to me, what might happen to all of us in the future, where this building will be in one thousand years, what was here one thousand years before, whether or not I will live as long as I might like to, if something will abruptly cut things short, or if living too long will bring its own unspeakable horrors—the list is endless, and because no item on the list represents on its own the actual, primary source of my fear, it can't be reasoned away, put down, thought out, or fully dealt with. I can only cycle through the endless possibilities, exhausting each item before moving on to the next.' At this early stage, it is impossible to avoid notes of absurdity and amusement in the story. But then the narrator and another boy find the body of a teacher, and it quickly spirals into a paranoid, claustrophobic nightmare. It doesn't quite lose its sense of humour, as the narrator spins outlandish and horrible fantasies about every new suspicion, but at the same time provides an uncomfortably realistic idea of what it's like to suffer paranoid delusions.I would place The Job of the Wasp next to The Children's Home, I'm Thinking of Ending Things and Fever Dream in a small but significant category of recent fiction that combines nightmarish imagery, symbolism, elements of traditional horror, and narratives that move beyond unreliability and into unreality. I found it weirdly powerful, compelling and totally sui generis. But if surrealism isn't your thing, if you like everything explained and resolved, give this one a miss – it's stubbornly enigmatic.I received an advance review copy of The Job of the Wasp from the publisher through Edelweiss.TinyLetter | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr
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  • Lori
    January 1, 1970
    This was my first date with Colin Winnette, and will most definitely not be my last. I inhaled this book in nearly one sitting. Equal parts Lord of the Flies, I'm Thinking of Ending Things, and Turn of the Screw, we follow an increasingly unreliable and highly paranoid narrator as he becomes confusingly entangled in a series of mysterious murders that take place at a boarding house of sorts for terminally ill and problematic boys (aka the Facility). Page after peculiar page, I was pulled deeper This was my first date with Colin Winnette, and will most definitely not be my last. I inhaled this book in nearly one sitting. Equal parts Lord of the Flies, I'm Thinking of Ending Things, and Turn of the Screw, we follow an increasingly unreliable and highly paranoid narrator as he becomes confusingly entangled in a series of mysterious murders that take place at a boarding house of sorts for terminally ill and problematic boys (aka the Facility). Page after peculiar page, I was pulled deeper into Winnette's world, and though I had an inkling of where things were heading, much like our nameless orphan, I continuously second guessed myself as I pushed on, running the scenearios over and over again in my head. Well played, Colin. Very well played.
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  • Jessica Sullivan
    January 1, 1970
    Imagine Lord of Flies if it were a surreal, gothic ghost story written by Jesse Ball. That's the best way I can describe this bizarre little book.The Job of the Wasp begins with an unnamed narrator showing up at a mysterious facility for orphaned boys. We, the reader, are dropped directly into this strange and eerie world where everything and everyone functions in a peculiar and unreliable manner. This is creepy, this persistent sense of the unknown.The narrator tries to fit in at the facility, Imagine Lord of Flies if it were a surreal, gothic ghost story written by Jesse Ball. That's the best way I can describe this bizarre little book.The Job of the Wasp begins with an unnamed narrator showing up at a mysterious facility for orphaned boys. We, the reader, are dropped directly into this strange and eerie world where everything and everyone functions in a peculiar and unreliable manner. This is creepy, this persistent sense of the unknown.The narrator tries to fit in at the facility, but is met with a range of indifference and hostility. Then the bodies start turning up, and things get really weird.Racked with dread, isolation and increasing paranoia, the narrator attempts to formulate a plan to save himself and his peers from the strange facility, only to learn that his role in all of it may not be what it seems.This is a creepy, darkly funny and cerebral book with some truly thought-provoking passages about the nature of reality, life, and death. The concept of control also plays a big part, as the narrator consistently struggles to take control of what's happening while simultaneously accepting "the unrestrained chaos of the world."Ultimately, though, I'm not sure I fully get the plot. Maybe I'm not supposed to. I enjoy the obscureness of surreal entertainment, but in cases such as this one I can't help but wish that the author had taken me just one step further toward a sense of cohesion. Jesse Ball always seems to nail this, which sets the bar high for other writers of surreal literature.In spite of feeling slightly disappointed with The Job of the Wasp as a whole, I'm always grateful for the opportunity to read a novel like this that's so intelligent and bizarre. The narrative itself gets 3 stars, but the dialogue and writing are so good that I can't give this anything less than 4.
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  • Elijah
    January 1, 1970
    Yo holy fuck
  • Ron S
    January 1, 1970
    A Gothic Lord of the Flies filled with comedic horror from a unique voice.
  • Steve
    January 1, 1970
    I read most of this novel in a single sitting, outdoors in eerie, uncomfortable weather on the edge of a hurricane to the south. Which I wouldn't usually mention in response to a book but in this case that climate so perfectly complemented the creepy, claustrophobic atmosphere of the story that it seems important.Something I really like in Winnette's fiction is how he works in new modes from book to book, whether the apocalypse story or the western or, in this case, the boarding school novel. He I read most of this novel in a single sitting, outdoors in eerie, uncomfortable weather on the edge of a hurricane to the south. Which I wouldn't usually mention in response to a book but in this case that climate so perfectly complemented the creepy, claustrophobic atmosphere of the story that it seems important.Something I really like in Winnette's fiction is how he works in new modes from book to book, whether the apocalypse story or the western or, in this case, the boarding school novel. He swirls them together bringing different modes into tension or conflict, as your guesses at what's going to happen are stymied by wondering which genre's conventions to follow. That's definitely what happens here: the mechanisms of HOW the novel gets where it is going are engaging, and even when I thought I knew, to some extent, where they were headed, the manner of doing so made it fresh. Especially the voice, with its dispassionate, affectless precision — perhaps its the insect in the title, but I couldn't help describing this book as like the narrator of The Wasp Factory enrolled in Jakob von Gunten's Institute Benjamenta.
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  • Michelle
    January 1, 1970
    I've got to say that I was confused through most of this book. There were glimpses of some good creepy scenes but my mind just couldn't fully grasp what was happening. Maybe it's me. Maybe I just didn't get it. This is well written and other reviewers seem to of enjoyed it so by all means give it a try if it sounds interesting to you. Thank you to Edelweiss for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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  • Emily May
    January 1, 1970
    Too strange, cold, and emotionally-detached for my tastes. I should have probably felt something when the corpses started to show up, but I didn't.
  • Chris Roberts
    January 1, 1970
    The Home for Nonconvertible Boys, children, in drafty rooms, they room,the days, they breathe, now swing down, little brother,comes the night snatching behind you.Chris Roberts, God in Increments
  • Simon
    January 1, 1970
    At the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018, "The Killing Of A Sacred Deer", a new film from acclaimed Greek Yorgos Lanthimos, has been all the rage. The slow, weird thriller about a soft-spoken and detached boy at the centre of a horrible incident, it captured people with the intentionally wooden acting, the eerie atmosphere, and the unanswered questions that it never even really presents.Then Colin Winnette wrote a short little book that blows that film out of the water.Concerning a strange y At the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018, "The Killing Of A Sacred Deer", a new film from acclaimed Greek Yorgos Lanthimos, has been all the rage. The slow, weird thriller about a soft-spoken and detached boy at the centre of a horrible incident, it captured people with the intentionally wooden acting, the eerie atmosphere, and the unanswered questions that it never even really presents.Then Colin Winnette wrote a short little book that blows that film out of the water.Concerning a strange young boy that arrives at an all-male orphanage, the novel is a gothic horror about murder, loneliness, and the mystique. The book posits questions almost every page and rarely answers them, masking every innocuous action or occurrence through the narrator's perverse outlook on everything. The paranoid boy sees a savage murderer in his principal, lying snakes in his fellow orphans, and death all over the orphanage itself. What parts of this are true is largely up to the reader as Winnette rarely does clear explanations, opting for really creepy descriptions and turns of phrase that turn even the simplest interaction sinister. Every character seems to speak like no normal person would, the weather always seems just a bit off, and the wasps figure prominently for no clear reason."The Job of The Wasp" is steeped in weirdness and revels in it. If you're not averse to a horror that is scary on atmosphere only, you might just love this. But don't go looking for answers and don't trust anyone.
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  • David Bridges
    January 1, 1970
    A classical feeling goth novel with many other interesting elements. It is part murder mystery within a Lord Of The Flies-style setup. There are orphan boys trying to protect themselves from a perceived haunting and of course, the kid with psychopathic tendencies has risen to the top of their hierarchy. There is more to the story than that though. Our young narrator has just arrived at this crowded boys home and is not only finding it difficult to make friends with the other boys but can’t shake A classical feeling goth novel with many other interesting elements. It is part murder mystery within a Lord Of The Flies-style setup. There are orphan boys trying to protect themselves from a perceived haunting and of course, the kid with psychopathic tendencies has risen to the top of their hierarchy. There is more to the story than that though. Our young narrator has just arrived at this crowded boys home and is not only finding it difficult to make friends with the other boys but can’t shake the feeling the headmaster is out to get him. As he carefully navigates the situation the bodies begin to pile up and he realizes things are not as they seem. The narrator continues to learn that he cannot trust anyone, sometimes even himself.I really enjoyed this book and am becoming a serious fan of Winnette’s writing. He has a talent for gothic prose whether he is writing a Shirley Jackson style ghost story or a western like his awesome last novel Haint’s Stay. The Job Of The Wasp keeps the paranoia and unpredictability of a psychological thriller and the macabre violence of a horror story. This one will keep you on your toes until the end. I plan to maybe check out one of Winnette’s books previous to Haint’s Stay in the meantime while I wait for his new work. I hope he continues to write stories in this gothic style as he is proving himself to be incredibly skilled at it.
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  • Andy Weston
    January 1, 1970
    Colin Winnette’s Haint’s Stay was one of the highlights of my 2016 reading, a hard hitting coming of age Western in the mould of McCarthy or Lansdale. This is totally different though, perhaps described as quite an English style gothic tale with an element of the supernatural, more with the influence of Henry James or Susan Hill. The setting is a boys’ orphanage, the only building for miles in a dark valley, strangely run by only a Headmaster and a solitary teacher. No location is given for the Colin Winnette’s Haint’s Stay was one of the highlights of my 2016 reading, a hard hitting coming of age Western in the mould of McCarthy or Lansdale. This is totally different though, perhaps described as quite an English style gothic tale with an element of the supernatural, more with the influence of Henry James or Susan Hill. The setting is a boys’ orphanage, the only building for miles in a dark valley, strangely run by only a Headmaster and a solitary teacher. No location is given for the setting which seems more European than American. No age is given for the 30 odd boys, but from the clues given and I would guess at 11 to 12. The oddities don’t stop there. The story is narrated by an unpopular new boy whose reliability is doubtful. Lord of the Flies will be another influence, but the book is very much it’s own thing. It’s peculiarities found me searching for something similar I may have read, and failing. It all works though, as an original type of ghost story, and one that leaves a lot to the reader’s interpretation.
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  • Jim
    January 1, 1970
    Exceptionally well-written Gothic tale of loneliness and horror. Is there anything Colin Winnette can't do?
  • Diane S ☔
    January 1, 1970
    Review soon.
  • Elizabeth Willis
    January 1, 1970
    The Job of the Wasp is a tense, paranoid novel; it’s the kind of book to sink into on a stormy winter night and read in one sitting (preferably while sipping hot tea). Our unnamed narrator arrives at a home for orphaned boys. Rather than a warm welcome, he is greeted by faces that meld together, a disturbingly disinterested headmaster, unknown assailants, and an endless array of corpses that keep popping up at inconvenient times. Part ghost story, part boarding school story, the terror of this b The Job of the Wasp is a tense, paranoid novel; it’s the kind of book to sink into on a stormy winter night and read in one sitting (preferably while sipping hot tea). Our unnamed narrator arrives at a home for orphaned boys. Rather than a warm welcome, he is greeted by faces that meld together, a disturbingly disinterested headmaster, unknown assailants, and an endless array of corpses that keep popping up at inconvenient times. Part ghost story, part boarding school story, the terror of this book ranges from bloodless veins to cultish friend groups to the peculiar horror of a strong scent of pumpkin. In a voice that is eerily dispassionate, cold, and precise, the boy relates these strange events while also considering the nature of human responsibility to the other, and particularly what it means to commit an act of violence against another. What is the job of the wasp? What do we owe to those around us? He tracks an ever-shifting killer, turning in circles, following the same trajectory, endlessly. The killer is both within and without, and the investigation of these murders unfolds like a theatrical production, culminating in a mind-melting ending.
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  • Vernon Luckert
    January 1, 1970
    Writing is good - Story is strange!
  • Jennifer
    January 1, 1970
    I can't help but wonder "What did I miss?" as I look through the reviews on Goodreads and elsewhere. The book is about an orphanage for young boys and a mysterious set of deaths (accidents? murders? suicides?) and potentially supernatural perpetrators. It seems like it's Lord of the Flies-esque at some parts--a Jack/Ralph battle emerges a bit between the narrator and Anders/Fry. But it's quickly the case that Fry is the leader, so there ends that direct parallel. It's hard to say this is a consi I can't help but wonder "What did I miss?" as I look through the reviews on Goodreads and elsewhere. The book is about an orphanage for young boys and a mysterious set of deaths (accidents? murders? suicides?) and potentially supernatural perpetrators. It seems like it's Lord of the Flies-esque at some parts--a Jack/Ralph battle emerges a bit between the narrator and Anders/Fry. But it's quickly the case that Fry is the leader, so there ends that direct parallel. It's hard to say this is a consideration of groupthink or (im)morality, and I'm not sure what else to make of this. When I wonder "What did I miss?" it's not just a question of why did people like this story it's also, what did I miss in the story? I can't really figure out how this is a story. The only explanation I got from reading reviews was that this story was Poe-esque (it certainly was only Dickensian to the extent that it was set in an orphanage and written with narration and dialogue we wouldn't use today) in that the book ended abruptly right when the story seemed to get good. Here, it wasn't that it had gotten good right as it was ending. What I mean more is that it got to the point where it could have gotten good. There was some explanation from a character of things that might have been going on and then it could have gotten good. But we got no explanation of what has happened. All I can say is we likely had an unreliable narrator, but with so many events that made no sense, and no illuminating explanations or resolution whatsoever I could not come up with an idea of what was the alternative to what this narrator was saying.
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  • Toni
    January 1, 1970
    This is a story closely reminiscent of a good number of Poe’s short stories, with the unnamed narrator, a dank and dismal environment, an antagonist who won’t listen to reason, and a discovery of unexpected horrors within. It ends as most Poe tales do, just at the moment when the story is “getting good” and without explaining what happens to the narrator afterward.The dialogue is often too adult sound, almost speech-like and declamatory, to be that of children, but it fits well with the storylin This is a story closely reminiscent of a good number of Poe’s short stories, with the unnamed narrator, a dank and dismal environment, an antagonist who won’t listen to reason, and a discovery of unexpected horrors within. It ends as most Poe tales do, just at the moment when the story is “getting good” and without explaining what happens to the narrator afterward.The dialogue is often too adult sound, almost speech-like and declamatory, to be that of children, but it fits well with the storyline and the setting. The surreal elements of the plot will make the reader question whether any of the boys are real or if they are all perhaps phantoms of children long departed but still bound to the school as the ghosts they believe haunt it.The Job of the Wasp is a chilling tale, underscoring the narrator’s statement that “civilized boys are barbaric.” Its last horrifying sentence will long linger in the reader’s mind with the wishful addendum that he knew what came after.This novel was supplied by the publisher and no remuneration was involved in the writing of this review. This excerpt is taken from the full-length written for the New York Journal of Books.
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  • Susan
    January 1, 1970
    This started out very promising as a cross between The Shining and Lord of the Flies. If you give me an unreliable narrator, a boarding school setting and some creepiness I'm a happy reader. Unfortunately this one fell a bit flat. The dialogue, internal and external, was ridiculously unrealistic for young boys. It was way too verbose and philosophical and I can't imagine kids talking or thinking like this in real life. The whole story was a bit unsatisfying and the ending was a letdown. This was This started out very promising as a cross between The Shining and Lord of the Flies. If you give me an unreliable narrator, a boarding school setting and some creepiness I'm a happy reader. Unfortunately this one fell a bit flat. The dialogue, internal and external, was ridiculously unrealistic for young boys. It was way too verbose and philosophical and I can't imagine kids talking or thinking like this in real life. The whole story was a bit unsatisfying and the ending was a letdown. This wasn't a bad book but I expected so much more.
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  • Justin Freeman
    January 1, 1970
    I emailed Colin looking for a copy of Fondly because I couldn't find it in stores or online. He emailed back and asked if I would like to buy a copy from him, and of course, I agreed. When I got the package in the mail there was an advance reading copy of The Job of the Wasp waiting for me as well!The thing I love most about Mr. Winnette is his ability to shift genres while maintaining the quality of his work. From Revelation to Haints Stay, his prose is poignant and moving (and sufficiently cre I emailed Colin looking for a copy of Fondly because I couldn't find it in stores or online. He emailed back and asked if I would like to buy a copy from him, and of course, I agreed. When I got the package in the mail there was an advance reading copy of The Job of the Wasp waiting for me as well!The thing I love most about Mr. Winnette is his ability to shift genres while maintaining the quality of his work. From Revelation to Haints Stay, his prose is poignant and moving (and sufficiently creepy).In The Job of the Wasp, the unnamed and overweight narrator is a young boy who finds himself at an orphanage with a mysterious headmaster and deviant peers. As he learns his way around, it becomes apparent that this is no ordinary orphanage and there is no shortage of mayhem and murder.What was most intriguing was the narrator's thought process and inner dialogue. I found myself jotting down quotes in my notebook frequently so I could revisit them. This one did not disappoint!
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  • Donald
    January 1, 1970
    This is a quick, and strange read! A boy arrives at a school/boarding house for boys and things just get weird. People start dying, no one knows the boy or his name, and someone (or ones) may, or may not, be ghosts! Even though I wasn't a fan of the ending, I did enjoy the strangeness of the story. I felt very off kilter throughout. It reminded me of how I felt reading "We Have Always Lived in the Castle" by Shirley Jackson. I never really knew what was going on, but I enjoyed the ride!
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  • Bernadette
    January 1, 1970
    This felt like being in a very bad dream, and in that I believe it is successful. However, I felt detached from the characters and recoiled from the narrator through most of the book -which may have a point lost on me. Just wasn’t the cozy creepy gothic scare I expected.
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  • Eblison
    January 1, 1970
    The Job of the Wasp is an eerie and haunting story that seeps into your thoughts just as you're turning out the lights at night. Truly, a must-read for lovers of Gothic ghost stories and spooky tales. Colin Winnette must be fine-tuning the art of cinematic writing in this amazingly visual novel.
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  • Samantha
    January 1, 1970
    A weird, creepy, and delightfully unsettling novella. Winnette absolutely nails the psychological unraveling of the narrator, and even though you can kinda see the ending coming, it's a perfect conclusion. I'll definitely be seeking out more of Winnette's work.
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  • Taylor Clarke
    January 1, 1970
    A gothic of the highest order. Perhaps not as structurally sound as FEVER DREAM or I'M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS, but the writing, tone, and narration were a dream. Adam Sternbergh just wrote in the NY Times about his ideal subway read - this was mine.
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  • Ivan
    January 1, 1970
    Claustrophobic setting, effective fear and tension...a gothic thriller that calls to mind Andreas Barbas' Such Small Hands crossed with Lord of the Flies.
  • Adam Morgan
    January 1, 1970
    A brisk, slippery little Gothic horror novel with a really memorable narrator. Dead Poets Society with more deaths and (potential) murders.
  • Izabela
    January 1, 1970
    A fast-paced eerie story.
  • Alexis Stankewitz
    January 1, 1970
    I just ended up skimming more than reading. .. which is pretty sad considering it's only 198 pages.
  • Emily
    January 1, 1970
    This one couldn’t hold my attention. I skimmed the last couple pages. Many folks have read and loved this one; it just wasn’t for me.
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