Book Reviews

Disappearance at Devil’s Rock by Paul Tremblay (2016) Review

When 13 year old Tommy goes missing after a strange night with his closest friends, his family experiences both the grief and unexplained events that follow suit. Secret diaries, sealed lips, and supernatural explanations all start to rise to the surface in this slow burn story.

Bits and Pieces: Oddly familiar to ‘Stranger Things’- coincidence? We get it, we get it, stop providing explanations, Wait, what? , and Damn, that’s sad as hell. 

The Nitty Gritty: Disappearance at Devil’s Rock seemed to have been skimming across the surface of unquenched desires for shock and surprise; it didn’t dive into what it could have been and it felt like the author withheld a lot of substance from the reader. His characters weren’t as defined as I had previously enjoyed in this story either. They all seemed to be on the same wave length and not overtly unique or outright. Elizabeth, the mother of the missing Tommy, lacked a natural personality; meaning Tremblay had to explain who she was and what she was about, rather than letting the character speak for herself. I felt this also applied to a few other key characters.  The handwritten diary pages and illustrations were a wonderful addition and a great tool for the foreshadowing that was essential to the story. Not only was it necessary, it’s what really what made the book’s conclusion so heart-tugging.

Tommy’s diary entries are where the author’s talent for wording and phrasing shined; the excessive explanations for very well know pop culture references was extremely jaunting however. This was probably an editor’s decision and that’s fine; it was just a bad decision. The story line also felt a little too close for comfort to Stranger Things; young boys off where they aren’t supposed to be, one of them goes missing, a mother and another sibling lay in turmoil and wait, and there’s definitely something fishy going on. The 7th grade boys’ dialogue takes up the majority of the read and it was at times hard to power through. Keep this in mind if you’re looking for something with a clean, sophisticated edge.

Long Story Short (Too Late): This is the second novel by Paul Tremblay that I’ve read and already I’ve branded him with his own genre; hoodwinked horror. His stories are presented as terrifying tales of horror and the unimaginable, only to lead way to semi-rational, non-fantastical conclusions. This is both fun and frustrating as a reader looking for horror. In this sense, I feel like his style shouldn’t belong in the ‘forbidden’ section but rather the dark drama section. This and A Head Full of Ghosts are chocked full of creepy and alarming snippets but they always unravel to a sad, painfully emotional ending that didn’t really turn out to be what you thought. It’s great writing and the stories stay with you but the marketing really does try to appeal to a different audience. I think you’ll make it out alive and satisfied if you keep an open mind and go into these books without preconceptions. On the bright side, you can absolutely expect  passionate, honest, and horror-nerd-trivia-filled writing; guaranteed.


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