The Mask Collectors

A murder investigation becomes a dance with the devil in a breakthrough novel of illusion, conspiracy, and belief.

The alumni of an international boarding school have gathered at a campground in rural New Jersey when a scream breaks the silence of the woods. Classmates are shocked to find journalist Angie Osborne suddenly dead. The medical examiner’s report isn’t what anyone expects. Oddly, the death scene reminds anthropologist Duncan McCloud of a thovile, a Sri Lankan ritual he’s spent years studying.

When Duncan’s new employer, a pharmaceutical giant, sends him overseas under shadowy pretenses, and his wife, Dr. Grace McCloud, starts to receive anonymous warnings to doubt everyone and everything, the threads of a sweeping conspiracy begin to unravel. Risking more than their own lives, Duncan and Grace embark on a treacherous journey through occult ceremonies and their own hidden pasts to discover a secret worth killing for.

In taut, precise language, Ruvanee Pietersz Vilhauer’s debut novel The Mask Collectors tells a story about deception, the power of belief, and what is left unspoken between husbands and wives.

The Water Diviner and Other Stories

In this thought-provoking collection, Sri Lankan immigrants grapple with events that challenge perspectives and alter lives.

A volunteer faces memories of wartime violence when she meets a cantankerous old lady on a Meals on Wheels route. A lonely widow obsessed with an impending apocalypse meets an oddly inspiring man. A maidservant challenges class divisions when she becomes an American professor’s wife. An angry tenant fights suspicion when her landlord is burgled. Hardened inmates challenge a young jail psychiatrist’s competence. A father wonders whether to expose his young son’s bully at a basketball game. A student facing poverty courts a benefactor. And in the depths of an isolated Wyoming winter, a woman tries to resist a con artist. These and other tales explore the immigrant experience with a piercing authenticity.

Editorial Reviews

  • “Mesmerizing, tranquil, and worldly, these stories kept me transfixed. Each is a long, beautiful excursion into the difficulty and suspense of human relationships. One emerges from the book believing life to be more peaceful and more intense than before. A wonderful, masterful work of art.”

    —Rebecca Lee, judge, Iowa Short Fiction Award

  • “With a steady hand, soft heart, and sharp insights, Ruvanee Pietersz Vilhauer miraculously balances the precarious beam of identity and cultural displacement. The stories in The Water Diviner speak straight to the soul, its universal aches and voids, and we are better for getting to know these characters.”

    —Nancy Zafris, author, The Home Jar: Stories

About Ruvanee Pietersz Vilhauer

Ruvanee Pietersz Vilhauer has worked as a science writer for NASA, a biology researcher and a therapist in various settings, including a jail. For many years, her day job has been as an academic psychologist. She has a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Chicago and teaches at New York University. She grew up in Sri Lanka and lived in India, Thailand, Canada and Australia before settling in the United States. Her short fiction has been broadcast on BBC Radio 4, and her essays and short stories have appeared in The Kenyon Review, The Massachusetts Review, Notre Dame Review, The Summerset Review, Quiddity, Michigan Quarterly Review, Stand, The American Literary Review, The Examined Life, and many other venues. She won the Commonwealth Short Story Competition in 2004 and the Iowa Short Fiction Award in 2018. She lives in New Jersey with her family.