Anne Marie Fox/HBO
Shirley Li
December 06, 2017 AT 11:00 AM EST

A version of this story appears in the First Look issue of Entertainment Weekly, on newsstands Friday. For more exclusive interviews and First Look photos only in EW, buy it here or subscribe now.

Camille and her mother, Adora — the women at the center of Gillian Flynn’s 2006 debut novel, Sharp Objects — have a relationship so toxic they should be reported to poison control.

In the eight-episode adaptation developed by Marti Noxon (UnREAL) and directed by Jean-Marc Vallée (Big Little Lies, Wild), their venomous connection only grows more potent when Camille (Amy Adams, also an executive producer), a crime reporter fresh out of a psych hospital for her years of self-harm, returns to her hometown of Wind Gap, Mo., to investigate the murders of two little girls. The assignment lands her back in her childhood home under the critical eye of picture-perfect small-town socialite Adora (Patricia Clarkson), which forces Camille to confront personal demons, including spoiled half sister Amma, played by Eliza Scanlen.

Anne Marie Fox/HBO

Like Flynn’s other novels, Dark Places and Gone Girl — which have both been adapted into filmsSharp Objects has no shortage of disturbing twists, but the author and EP says this book most needed the extra TV screen time. “I was really nervous it would just turn into a horror movie and lose a lot of the nuance,” she explains. “The mystery is as much about who Camille is and what happened in this town as it is about the murders.”

Diving into the unsettling world of Wind Gap hasn’t been easy on the actors, either. “I think it’s been a burden for [Amy] to carry that character,” Noxon admits. The same goes for Clarkson, who calls Adora “the beauty and the beast,” before adding, “It’s a very brutal part and one that can take a toll on you.” Like mother, like daughter — off camera, at least.

Sharp Objects debuts on HBO summer 2018.

Additional reporting by Nicole Sperling

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