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!