This is an interesting horror story. And it IS a horror story, just not in the buckets of blood, constant big baddie chasing you down the hallway sort. This is subtle horror, and it’s effective. A young teenage boy goes missing, and his mother and sister and the police work to not only find him, but as information and evidence starts coming in, try to understand and make sense of the bizarre events leading up to his disappearance.
I’ve been a fan of Tremblay’s writing style since I first tried him out with CABIN AT THE END OF THE WORLD. I enjoyed that book, but it didn’t make me stand on my chair and proclaim it as the next greatest novel in American literature. I read A HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS afterward, and enjoyed it quite a lot, more so than CABIN, but still, not life-changing for me as I’d expected from all the rave reviews. The only times anyone spoke about Disappearance at Devil’s Rock around me, it was usually in a critical sense, as though this book were Tremblay’s nadir…and I couldn’t disagree more. I’m so glad I finally tried this one out because it was the perfect marriage of Tremblay’s style (which I’m a big fan of) with a story that flawlessly meshes with that style.
I was on the edge of my seat throughout. The suspense was palpable, but again, without there being a constant threat of some monster or psychopath looming nearby. The suspense was deeper than that, finding its source in the hearts and minds of the grieving and terrified mother and sister, in how they deal with the information they find, and how (if at all) they pass it on or utilize that information. And then it all leads to a wildly unexpected and shocking event, told from so many different perspectives that I was never totally sure exactly what really happened, and that was the point: neither did anyone else.
It was this masterful approach that makes DISAPPEARANCE work so well. Being inside the minds of the grieving, the information filtered through their skewed and biased perceptions, and for me, it all came together like a beautiful spell of dark magic.
This book has catapulted Paul Tremblay very high on my list of author’s to follow, more so than Cabin or Ghosts. I know everyone loves those books, and I liked them both a good deal, but this one…THIS ONE is the masterpiece. My jaw is still slack. When a book really blows you away, the way you feel after? That’s me.
Can’t be recommended enough, and because this horror doesn’t rely on blood or menace virtually at all, I can safely recommend it to anyone of any stripe. You’ll find yourself engrossed in a human story of tragedy with so many bizarre elements that by the end you’ll find yourself frightened.
5/5 stars. This book is phenomenal. Find it here.