Thursday, May 25, 2017
Review: "Disappearance at Devil's Rock" by Paul Tremblay
A novel like Paul Tremblay’s Disappearance at Devil’s Rock can’t help but make you think of other books, books that it stands on the shoulders of, books that, in some cases are a little bit better. But it still presents an intense and immediately engaging premise (even if it is not the most original), smart characters and a perfectly balanced tone of ambiguous malevolence and real world atrocities. I knew this was going to be something different, something more along the lines of Nick Cutter’s (Craig Davidson) Little Heaven which came out earlier this year, and sure enough, it did not disappoint in that regard. It begins as Elizabeth is awoken from her sleep by a ringing phone. When it rings again and she answers it, she is met with the worst news a parent can receive: her son Tommy is missing after going disappearing into the woods, last seen by his two friends Josh and Luis. The place he disappeared around is called Split Rock, but its colloquial name is Devil’s rock, based on an old legend about a town resident tricking and trapping the devil between two rock gorges. The search intensifies, with social media playing a big role, and Elizabeth and Kate, Tommy’s younger sister, begin experiencing unexplained happenings around the house involving pages from Tommy’s diary turning up in the living room and faces seen through windows. The diary reveals a much more bitter side of Tommy, one obsessed with the early death of his father and his feelings about the world. But not everything is crystal clear, and both Josh and Luis are hiding a dark secret involving a fourth person. Fans of Peter Straub will love this, and while it is hard not to think of Stranger Things, this story has little in common with the Netflix show. It doesn’t tread new ground, but what it does do is accomplish a slick sense of dread that lingers even after the harrowing reveal and the last few haunting pages.