A group of kids, having just left high school, go on a hike and discover a book. They make the mistake of opening it and having done so, unleash all sort of mayhem and madness on their small town of Roanville.
Massive wolves, terrifying spiders, zombified residents, and lots more: the list is a what’s what of horror tropes and makes for a hell of a ride. Tyler doesn’t hold back and goes full throttle visceral as relatives, friends and townsfolk are maimed, slaughtered or rendered to dust.
But the thing I really liked about it, what made it a cut-above, was the way he wrote the ensemble of characters: teenagers with all their hopes, dreams, worries and issues who work them through whilst dealing with unimaginable evil. In this, he had much in common with lord and master of this stuff, Stephen King. Like him, without diffusing any of the horror, Cram puts us in the skin of these characters, we feel what they feel whilst all the time sharing in their camaraderie and teenage humour. It’s the sign of a talented writer who can use authentic dialogue to make us care what happens to them, thereby making the horror worse.
And it is by going back to Stephen King, that I’m offering the barest criticism. I’d have liked the book to be twice as long. For Cram to have mined the backstories more – like with Brock; to have taken even more time, possibly with flashbacks, and maybe developing the underlying ‘monster’ way beyond the devasting end reveal.
But make no mistake, Tyler Cram is a talented writer and definitely one to watch.
(Personal note to author: I thought the spider bit was most horrid. Thank you very much for the bad dream).
Death stalks a town. An ancient evil. A long-buried secret.
A young officer responding to a call in the middle of the night about chickens being slaughtered turns into a night of reckoning when a deadly creature emerges from the woods.
Years later, while on a hike in the North Carolina wilderness, four friends discover an old book. When they open it, they black out – only to find on waking that they have released the evil things that live within the pages.
As they fight to keep their neighbors from dying, they unravel a dark secret that the leaders of their town have held since their ancestors first settled.
But can the boys really stop the devil?