ANNIKA ROSE, a novel

Coming on May 21, 2024 from Red hen press


Ancient and contemporary myths—including both Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby—overlay a coming-of-age story set in remote northern Minnesota.

Seventeen-year-old Annika Rose and her father Wes have spent the years since the death of Annika’s mother in self-imposed social isolation on their farm on the edge of the woods. When a young woman named Tina moves into a house down the road, the result is a sudden explosion of feelings in both father and daughter and a fierce rivalry. At stake in the competition is not only their relationship, but the life of the vulnerable young woman at the center of it all.


“Cheri Johnson’s novel Annika Rose is a marvel of invention whose always knowing prose, alternately heartbreaking and hilarious, simultaneously glimmers and cuts. A magician with character, Johnson’s most artful alchemy comes in her protagonist Annika, who, if there is a meritocracy, will become as memorable a first name in literature as Holden or Huckleberry as teenagers choked and befuddled by angst, adventure, and an ever-encroaching and frightening very real world. Annika—an eighteen-year-old post-modern Laura Ingalls inhabiting a little trailer on the prairie—is a breathing contradiction, both an old soul and a doe-innocent naif. Yet her battle—to speak when uncomfortable truths finally outweigh convenient myths—is as ageless as both life and death.”

Neal Karlen, author of This Thing Called Life: Prince’s Odyssey On + Off the Record

“Part coming-of-age story, part ode to the landscape of northern Minnesota, this is also a horror story that reflects the larger horror of adolescence, of a girl’s fight for integrity in the face of demolished innocence. How could we forget Annika after we meet her? Her character is seared upon my brain. She is reminiscent of other stubborn, opinionated characters who struggle in the limbo between childhood and adulthood: Huckleberry Finn, Laura Ingalls, and Scout Finch.”

Amanda Coplin, author of The Orchardist

Annika Rose is a coming-of-age story unlike any you’ve ever read. This novel peels back the skin of the genre’s tropes to reveal all of the sticky weirdness that exists beneath. Annika Rose’s narrative is a journey into deep psychic wildness where love, desire, envy, power, and violence collapse into one another. We open with what presents initially as a love triangle, but quickly reveals itself to be the face of a much more complex and multidimensional geometry of desire. The setting, at the edge of farm country in the age of supermarkets, is more than a backdrop. The creatures and hazards of the deep woods the characters still roam serve as an insistent reminder of the feral impulses powering our rational minds. Annika Rose is also a page-turner and compulsively readable, its sentences at turns as restrained and untamed as the country it describes. 
Melanie Conroy-Goldman, author of The Likely World



As autumn loomed, it didn’t, for the first time she could remember, seize
all of August in its grip. The yellow squashes beginning to swell under the leaves,
the cozy look of the dogs with their thickening coats, did not fill her with dread
touched with a tender longing. Neither did Annika feel the threat of school
squeezing each drop of excruciating beauty out of the late summer light on the
wild plums.

If she had been going to school, she might have been clutching the
smugly happy feeling that this year when she got on the bus, she would have with
her the existence of Tina and Jesse. Something no one else in school had, or
perhaps could even imagine. Maybe when Tina went into town for groceries she
would have swung by the school in her loud, conspicuous truck, her elbow out
the window, Jesse’s motorcycle sunglasses on, shouting with her pretty smile to
ask Annika, waiting for the bus, if she wanted a ride. Jesse might have visited
Haas in his office, and certainly he’d have come to her band concerts. She
imagined him drawing everyone’s attention by scattering guitar picks on the gym
floor when he pulled something out of his pocket. If nothing else, Annika could
have thought and even yapped about them all day long.

They had come a year too late. Sometimes in the evenings, when Annika
would have been going to Tina and Jesse’s smelling of dirt and cornsilk, she sat in
a lawn chair in front of the trailer watching the sun go down, snapping a rubber
band into her leg and wondering what in the world she had done with all this
time before.



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