Welcome to Stark Falls, New Hampshire, 1985.
A quaint, wholesome town, where couples picnic on the green, kids hang at the malt shop and drive-ins, and neighborhood potlucks are the place to be. White picket fences line well-manicured lawns, and evening concerts at the bandstand fill the town with the sound of joy.
But in the summer of ‘85, the residents of Stark Falls will know fear.
A monster is on the loose.
A monster that may not be of this world.
This is the second book by Patrick Moody and is aimed at the younger end of the market, so around 12 years old upwards. We’re introduced to the protagonists quite quickly, but it takes a while for the threat to appear. This is a good thing, as Moody grounds us in the lives of our heroes who are called the Crypt Crew, first as an insult but they like it so it becomes a badge of honour. The opening section of the book is well done and the three heroes are likeable and realistic enough that you end up rooting for them quickly. In fact, this opening section reminded me of Stranger Things, It and the Beatrice Beecham novels by Dave Jeffery. This is a good thing!
Things escalate as people start to disappear, with only trails of clay left behind. This central mystery drives the rest of the book and, whilst I think most readers will guess the antagonist long before the reveal, it is an entertaining journey nonetheless. It’s also great that the monster is not one that features in every other horror book, so bonus marks for originality.
Moody packs the middle of the book with several set pieces that I found exciting and tense which pulled me through despite the existence of several annoying typos and a leap of logic that had me going ‘huh?’. I’ll outline this in the section below, so don’t read the last section if you plan on buying this book.
Whilst there are a few typos in the book, the thing that really annoyed me (and I completely accept this might just be me and you may be fine with it) is that Hector’s mother is a doctor. No, no, come back, that’s not what annoyed me. When she’s introduced, she’s introduced as Doctor Delgado. Then she becomes Mrs Delgado and then Dr Delgado. This is all in the same section, so it’s not like she was at home so is ‘Mrs Delgado’ but at work she’s ‘Doctor’. The inconsistency really dragged me out of the story, which led to me noticing a few more typos that I perhaps would otherwise have missed.
Despite all that, this is a really solid read and will entertain most who pick it up. The Crypt Crew make for engaging protagonists and I suspect we’ll see them again soon. I’ll look forward to reading more of their adventures.
Well, one mostly. Last chance to back away if you’re planning to read this….
Late in the book, Maria and her cronies say they are going to walk out of town on an old trail. A few chapters later, Hector says the golem has them. How does he know this? There are no clues to their disappearance. No-one found trails of clay in the woods. Also, she’s been vile to him throughout the book, so his willingness to risk his life to save her is a little suspect, even accepting the family bond. The golem taking Maria fits perfectly, so that’s not a criticism, it’s that Hector knows it has, when he really doesn’t/shouldn’t.