Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre: Horror, Mystery/Thriller
An unforgettable horror novel from bestselling sensation Ania Ahlborn—hailed as a writer of “some of the most promising horror I’ve encountered in years” (New York Times bestselling author Seanan McGuire)—in which a small-town boy investigates the mysterious disappearance of his cousin and uncovers a terrifying secret kept hidden for years.
Young Jude Brighton has been missing for three days, and while the search for him is in full swing in the small town of Deer Valley, Oregon, the locals are starting to lose hope. They’re well aware that the first forty-eight hours are critical and after that, the odds usually point to a worst-case scenario. And despite Stevie Clark’s youth, he knows that, too; he’s seen the cop shows. He knows what each ticking moment may mean for Jude, his cousin and best friend.
That, and there was that boy, Max Larsen…the one from years ago, found dead after also disappearing under mysterious circumstances. And then there were the animals: pets gone missing out of yards. For years, the residents of Deer Valley have murmured about these unsolved crimes…and that a killer may still be lurking around their quiet town. Now, fear is reborn—and for Stevie, who is determined to find out what really happened to Jude, the awful truth may be too horrifying to imagine.
I don’t usually read horror, I’m not even sure why as the handful of books I’ve read I enjoyed, but when I saw not one, but THREE of my favorite bloggers raving about this one, I knew I had to read it! I’m talking about Sam at Clues and Reviews, Abby at Crime By The Book, and Danielle at Books Vertigo and Tea, thank you ladies for the awesome recommendation!
I was a bit skeptical when I first started this one, it was on the slow side and there wasn’t much to be afraid of. I needn’t have worried because as the book progressed, so did the creep factor. This is broken up into three parts; part one is told by Stevie a ten year old boy. His cousin and best friend Jude is missing and he’s frantic with worry. Part two is told from Rosie’s perspective, she’s a young woman living deep in the forest of Deer Valley, Oregon with her husband and she desperately wants a child. Part three is when things really start to get intense and downright horrifying as the storylines merge together.
Even though the pacing for the beginning of Jude’s story was a bit slow for me, I was very taken in by his character. This poor kid, he lives with his detached mother, his abusive stepfather and his jerky older brother. His only friend is Jude and he’s lost and frightened without him. He stutters and does this odd rhyming thing when he speaks, so as you can imagine school is a nightmare for him. On top of all of that, he’s struggling in regards to his mental health and no one seems to care very much. I wanted to take care of this sweet boy and give him the love and affection he deserves, he really got under my skin. Then there’s Rosie whose one wish is to be a mother and when she miscarried, my heart broke. I don’t want to discuss her too much as anything I would say would be a spoiler, but my heart really went out to her.
The setting of the small town of Deer Valley that’s surrounded by a dense forest was a perfect backdrop for the horrors Ahlborn created. From the trees that seemed to whisper secrets to the people who dared to venture into the forest to the animals who seemed otherworldly in a highly disturbing way, the author absolutely nailed the atmosphere of this book. This one is gory and graphic, I was chilled to the bone many times while reading. Have you ever been watching a scary movie and kind of watched with one eye open? That was me reading this. The epilogue was utter perfection, I was petrified and pleased by it, and by now you guys now how much a strong ending means to me. If you’re a mystery/thriller fan who doesn’t mind supernatural elements and graphic descriptions, give this one a chance.
Overall rating: 4.5/5