Title: Disappearance at Devil’s Rock
Author: Paul Tremblay
From the back: Late one night, Elizabeth Sanderson receives the devastating news that every mother fears: her thirteen-year-old son, Tommy, has vanished without a trace.
The search isn’t yielding any answers, and Elizabeth and her young daughter, Kate, struggle to comprehend Tommy’s disappearance. Their feelings of helplessness and sorrow are compounded by anger and frustration: the police have uncovered no leads. The two friends who were with Tommy before he vanished may not be telling the whole truth about that night in Borderland State Park, when they were hanging out at a landmark the local teens have renamed Devil’s Rock.
Elizabeth is unprepared for the strange events that follow. She believes she sees Tommy’s ghost in her bedroom, while Kate and other residents claim to see a figure peering through their windows at night. Random pages torn from Tommy’s journal begin to mysteriously appear – entries that reveal an introverted teenager obsessed with the phantasmagoric; the loss of his father, killed in a drunk-driving accident a decade earlier; a folktale involving the devil and the Borderland woods; and a horrific incident that Tommy believed connected them all.
As the search grows more desperate, and the implications of what happened become more sinister, no one is prepared for the shocking truth about Tommy’s disappearance at Devil’s Rock.
The gist: Is it a ghost story? Is it a horror story? Is it every parent’s nightmare? Is it a dark, dark coming of age story? Is it all of these things and more? YES IT IS GO AND READ IT NOW. *Ahem*. I quite liked this book…
I read Tremblay’s A Head Full of Ghosts (an amazing read, probably one of my all-time favourite books) a little while ago, and this book just went and goddamn proved that he has to be one of the finest creepy writers around. (I mean writer of creepy books, I’m sure he’s not actually creepy). There’s something about the way he cliff-hangers the end of a chapter, the way that you don’t want to look out of the window in the dark in case you see something in the shadows, the way that the story lingers with you long after you close the book or shut down your e-reader, that is quite simply brilliant. There’s not many books that I find genuinely spooky, I think it’s an incredibly hard thing to get across in a novel. But for me, Tremblay certainly joins the likes of Stephen King, Joe Hill, Jason Arnopp and Josh Malerman in giving me genuine shivery-spine.
But it’s not a book that’s just about getting spooked and leaving the light on so you can finally fall asleep. It’s a book about a situation that is truly heart-rending. A lost child, and the search for him. You live it as the mother, as the sister, and as the missing child (there’s strains of Netflix’s Stranger Things in the style).
And what I find beautiful about the book (and this applies to A Head Full of Ghosts as well), is that Tremblay never fully reveals what is going on. You get to do that as the reader. Or not, depending on how you read it. And there’s something so real about the not knowing, because, in truth, you never really know anything, however much you want to.
Favourite line: “His picture and a plea for anyone with information to come forward are liked and passed around cyberspace, his face to be forgotten by most, like yesterday’s cat meme.”
Read if: You want a mix of the supernatural, the real, the horror and a black hole of sadness.
Read with: A blanket and a nightlight. And a locked door. And don’t go cycling out into your local park. And if you’ve not read it yet then go ahead and line up A Head Full of Ghosts.