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review 2017-02-02 01:16
Disappearance at Devil's Rock by Paul Tremblay
Disappearance at Devil's Rock: A Novel - Paul Tremblay

This is a slower paced mystery about a missing 14-year-old boy, his devastated mother and his heartbroken sister. It is a good story but it is not a horror novel. Do not be led astray like me.


A family is shaken to its core after the mysterious disappearance of a teenage boy in this eerie tale, a blend of literary fiction, psychological suspense, and supernatural horror from the author of A Head Full of Ghosts.


I think I missed the supernatural horror bits. First The Turner House disappoints with its false ghost promises and now there’s this one. Damn, I am totally striking out in January.

Anyway, I listened to this book on audio and though it was too long and I drifted here and there, I never felt an urge to shut it off. I’d probably give it a 3 ½ but I’ll bump it up to a 4 because it was quite a bit better than “meh”.


The story revolves around what really happened the day (or was it night? The mind fails me once again) Tommy and his two pals went out to Devil’s Rock to do something . . . Tommy’s two buddies returned home safe and sound but Tommy did not. Now it’s up to Tommy’s mom to piece together exactly what happened. When Tommy’s diaries pages start appearing out of the ether she begins to question everything.


And I don’t blame her. I really felt compassion for Tommy’s mom. She was a well written character and even had some realistic flaws, eventually breaking down and losing her cool. I loved to read that. It made the story come alive for me.


Basically, the story is one long, slow reveal of what happened prior to that fateful day (evening?) at Devil’s Rock. It’s set in the present day but the past is shown via the diary entries and through flashbacks. I’m not going to give it away. If you want to know, you’ll have to read the book.


It’s an enjoyable thriller only marred by too much inane and repetitive dialogue between the boys. They are teenagers and their conversations go a little like this, a little too often for my liking.

Josh: Anyone up for Mindcraft?


Luis: Mindcraft is AWESOME man but dad says I need to get homework done tonight.


Tommy: Your dad is such a Hard-o! (I did not mean hard-on pervy spellcheck)


Josh: Chirps!


They have their own lingo, which is normal for most teen boys, but that doesn’t mean it’s fun to read and, believe me, it's even less fun to listen to. Almost immediately that lingo annoyed me and when the boys were together it never let up.


The narrator, Erin Bennett, does a decent job with the work but she's just a little too polished at times and I did feel pulled out of the story on a few occasions, especially when she calls out a name before speaking their dialogue. I’m not sure if it was a narrator choice or if the book was written that way but it was off-putting and strange.


The actual mystery is doled out slowly as it should be, I take no issue with that. I only wish the book had been pruned a bit where the silly conversations and sometimes repetitive scenes were involved.


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review 2016-12-19 21:05
Unsettling yet compulsive reading
Disappearance at Devil's Rock: A Novel - Paul Tremblay

This was certainly different and I had a real problem with the author's writing style from the start. The way he phrased sentences and presented the various characters as they related to each other reminded me of studying Shakespeare at school!....

Josh: "You were playing on our server?"

Tommy:"What's the big deal?"

Arnold: "No worries. I was on some public one. Not yours."

Josh: "How'd  you know Tommy was playing then?"

Arnold: "Huh? Nah, I didn't know."

Josh: "You just said you did."

This rather irritating way of placing the speakers name at the start, inserting a colon immediately after, and then stating what was said....


Now having established my concerns, I must admit I was someone smitten with the suggestive and creeping horror. Elizabeth Sanderson is awoken to the news that her son Tommy is missing. What happened on the final night when he disappeared at Devil's Rock when in the company of his friends Louis, Joss and the mysterious Arnold. What is the significance of dark shadows, the crack-head penny, and mysterious notes that appear randomly at night for Elizabeth's attention. Who can she trust; daughter Kate? mum Janice? Detective Allison Murtagh? I read this story over a 24 hour period and found its content very unsettling, the character of Arnold somewhat evil, and the outcome for Tommy, Louis, and Joss sadly inevitable. The events that took place on one fateful night at Devil's Rock cannot fail but make a lasting impression on the reader and that surely must be the mark of a good book.

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text 2016-10-07 17:13
2016 Mass Book Awards!
A Head Full of Ghosts: A Novel - Paul Tremblay
Only the Strong - Jabari Asim
Honey from the Lion - Matthew Neill Null
The Muralist - B.A. Shapiro
The Secret Chord: A Novel - Geraldine Brooks
The Rumor: A Novel - Elin Hilderbrand
The Marriage of Opposites - Alice Hoffman
Bird - Noy Holland
On Hurricane Island - Ellen Meeropol
The Last Bookaneer - Matthew Pearl

For those of you who heard me make allusion to a book award that I was involved with, I can finally actually talk about it!  The winners for the 2016 Mass Book Awards have been announced!

2016 Winners: A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay, Rosemary:The Hidden Kennedy Daughter by Kate Clifford Larson, Immortality by Alan Feldman, The Thing About Jellyfish and Ketzel by Ali Benjamin, the Cat who Composed by Leslea Newman

This was loads of fun, if a bit chaotic.  I read a lot, but I read for several book clubs as well as review copies furnished by publishers... on top of any personal reading I want to do.  Shoehorning in a box of 12 books to read over about two months was plausible but required me to actually schedule reading.  Also, since I can't have one crazy thing in my life this also overlapped almost perfectly with the two month period from putting in an offer on a house to closing, as well as moving from part-time to full-time at my library.

I took part along with several others as judges for Adult Fiction, with the purpose of whittling down the long list (the 12 finalists) to one Winner and three Honors.  Some of the books were very easy to eliminate from the running, others took some dithering.  The winner stood out to all of us.

I do want to stress that just because I don't think highly of a book doesn't mean it's bad, just not for me.  Every book on the list already made it through a screening and narrowing down process, and we had to pull apart and rate them.  They all have their merits.

And now, the books and some thoughts from me on them.

A Head Full of Ghosts / Paul Tremblay (WINNER)
I didn't think I was going to like this book.  All three of us went into it with some trepidation, none of us were particularly into Horror, and everything about this book from the cover, to the synopsis, to the praise from other authors, said we were holding a horror novel in our hands.

And we loved it.

A Head Full of Ghosts isn't a book where the horror is a monster that goes bump in the night or a murderous villain in the dark.  Rather we get a self-aware book that exposes the horror genre while revealing itself.  The horror here is in misunderstanding and maltreatment of mental illness and in the exploitation of celebrity culture.  Don't go in with preconceptions of what the story is, let it show you.

Only the Strong / Jabari Asim (Honors)
I only fell in love with two books out of the twelve, and this was one of them.  Asim delivers masterful use of language and flawless shifting between narratives and narrators as the story comes full circle.  Read this book.

Honey From the Lion / Matthew Neill Null (Honors)
This book didn't work for me as a novel, but it definitely worked for the other to judges.  And even if I couldn't get into the book doesn't mean that it can't appreciate the craft of it.  Historical fiction tangled up in post-Civil War economics and environmentalism.

The Muralist / B. A. Shapiro (Honors)
Eminently readable and excellent as a book club pick.  The Muralist searches for the life of an artist in the center of the Abstract Expressionism movement.  A descendant seeking proof of a family legend and a young woman seeking to save her family from the Holocaust.  The story treats famous figures with a balance of respect and familiarity, and is very relateable to the ongoing discussions around immigration and refugees.

The Secret Chord / Geraldine Brooks (Long List)
Very close to making the Honors list.  Brooks is undeniably a skilled writer and she rose to the challenge of taking on historical figures of legend as the central story.  This book posed a challenge to me due to a general skittishness of anything I connect with my escaped childhood within the Church, and to due to my general skepticism when approaching novels about such significant figures.

The Rumor / Elin Hilderbrand (Long List)
I have discovered that I'm not a fan of Hilderbrand's writing.  I understand that her novels are incredibly popular beach reads, but they're just not for me.  This book is made up of characters who desperately need hobbies.  If I wanted this level of drama I'd read Sweet Valley High.

A Marriage of Opposites / Alice Hoffman (Long List)
Well written, but after deep investment in one character it jarringly switches half-way through to a different one.  In many ways your standard Hoffman novel, including possibly magical romance.

Bird / Noy Holland (Long List)
I still can't decide if I like or really dislike this one.  I could see what it was working towards, and there's a level of brilliance in the writing, but at the same time I was left wondering what I was reading.

On Hurricane Island / Ellen Meeropol (Long List)
Very timely novel, but suffers from too many individual story lines and perhaps not enough editing. 
It started out with a good rating, but that dropped a bit as I read.  I personally feel that a "civillian Gitmo" off the coast of Maine misses the whole point of Guantanamo being off US soil, and various other plot wholes just niggled at me too much.  The main villain was a mustache away from being Snidely Whiplash, and the sexual assault he perpetrated (as well as his extended daydreaming about it) was really hard for me to stomach (which is partially the point, but I also have issues with how sexual assault and rape is generally written about).
Complaints aside, it was well worth the read.

The Last Bookaneer / Matthew Pearl (Long List)
Pre-copyright book pirates sounds like an amazing premise to me.  Conceptually a great novel, but it failed to deliver on the action and adventure we hoped for.  Neat read, but drawn out.

Honeydew / Edith Pearlman (Long List)
Short story collections are hard.  As Helen Ellis says, "'For a collection of short stories' is the 'For your age' of the book world."  Overall this collection to me was made up of slice-of-life stories that failed at their hoped for intimacy.

Find Me / Laura Van Den Berg (Long List)
This book delivers a fresh take on the pandemic story line, told with a deliberately wandering and confused narrative.  Perhaps bordering on YA in tone, but a solid read.
Source: libromancersapprentice.blogspot.com/2016/10/2016-mass-book-awards.html
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review 2016-09-24 07:23
Disappearance at Devil's Rock Paul Tremblay ((Genre Mystery pick))
Disappearance at Devil's Rock: A Novel - Paul Tremblay





I picked this as my Halloween bingo's “Genre Mystery” and It totally fitted the bill.

Straight away Paul Tremblay Slams you into the tale with a Disturbing plot opening.That one Nightmare I think every parent would dread. A late night phone call from their son's friend That then Pulls you in to a an addicting and fast Gut Wrenching story. That Really makes it as draining for you emotionally, as it does the characters in the book!



This Tale had me in it's grip. I carried this around on my kindle and for 3 days I was speaking to everybody who would listen about it! This is the second book I've read of Paul's the first one being his A head Full of ghosts. Which is just as good as this.


This was a psychological suspense of a ride and a truly Genre Mystery on the notes of horror and a book I Highly recommend.

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review 2016-08-28 23:49
Disappearance at Devil's Rock: A Novel - Paul Tremblay

I did not expect to like this book as much as I did. I thought Paul Tremblay's last novel, A Head Full Of Ghosts, was okay — I gave it three stars — but nothing extraordinary or memorable. I felt it borrowed too liberally from other, better horror works of the past, and it all resulted in a 'meh' experience for me overall. It kept me guessing until the end, and I thought the relationship between the two main characters — young sisters — was extremely well-written. I could take or leave everything else in that one, though.


Here we are, a year later, and Tremblay's latest novel is out. I snapped up Disappearance at Devil's Rock a couple of months back and put it on the back-burner for whenever I needed a breezy, fun read. With the Booklikes Halloween Bingo quickly approaching (Goodreads people: check the link to my Booklikes account in my bio for more details!), I needed a quick thriller to hold me over for a day or two. I didn't want to get involved in an ambitious, lengthy work and risk getting started on the bingo a few days late. Tremblay to the rescue! I decided to give this book a whirl, and I was hooked from page one.


This is a story about a thirteen year old boy who goes missing in the woods. There is more to it than that, of course, but that's the jumping off point and the event around which everything orbits. Within the first few pages Tremblay sunk his claws into me, making the excruciating fear of losing someone very real. I am not a parent, but I felt for mother Elizabeth in her desperate search for her son. The author drew the family dynamic well, and everyone — Tommy, the missing boy; Kate, his sister; his mother; his friends; the eventual antagonist — is written with incredible depth and plausibility. I felt for each character, and understood their motivations and fears and ideas. This is an author who clearly cares about the people he populates his stories with. I especially enjoyed reading the sections involving Tommy, Luis, and Josh. Tremblay certainly knows how to write teenage boys -- the way they talk and behave felt very true to me while reading, often bringing to mind things my friends and I did and talked about at that age.


Above all, this is a mystery/thriller novel with healthy doses of horror thrown in. It had me in its clutches to the end, and I wish it was longer. Like A Head Full Of Ghosts, Disappearance at Devil's Rock kept me guessing the whole time and the ending absolutely stunned me. I did not see it coming. This is a fine suspense novel of the highest order, and I cannot wait to see what Paul Tremblay does next!

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