Book Review: Disappearance at Devil’s Rock by Paul Tremblay

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Thanks so much to the folks at HarperCollins/William Morrow for sending me an advanced digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

3.5/5 Stars.

Paul Tremblay is undoubtedly one of the best horror writers out there right now, and as a huge fan of A Head Full of Ghosts, I’ve been eagerly anticipating Disappearance at Devil’s Rock.

Fourteen-year-old Tommy Sanderson disappears without a trace in the nearby woods of his small suburban town, leaving his mother, his sister and his two best friends reeling. As the investigation into Tommy’s disappearance unfolds, it becomes clear that his best friends — who were with him that night — may know more than they are letting on. Meanwhile, his mother and sister see strange shadows lurking around the house and begin finding Tommy’s eerie journal entries on the floor, prompting them to wonder if he (or his ghost) is trying to tell them something.

Like A Head Full of Ghosts, Disappearance at Devil’s Rock teeters that fine line where creepy events could just as easily have a supernatural or logical explanation. And also like its predecessor, it uses horror as a vehicle to explore the American nuclear family. Whereas AHFOG uses the possession sub-genre, DADR uses zombies.

I’m not the kind of reader who needs everything to be tied up with a nice bow, but I do wish the pieces of this story came together in a more satisfying way, as they did in AHFOG. I wanted a little bit more from the resolution, and I had hoped that Tremblay would provide more commentary on the metaphors he planted.

Overall, this is a genuinely creepy novel that takes some unexpectedly dark turns that even had a total gorehound like me grossed out, but for the most part the horror is psychological; there were a few scenes that had me terrified of what would happen next, and that’s alway a fun experience as a horror fan.

If you enjoy the horror genre, make sure Tremblay is on your radar. His smart, thoughtful writing and his impressive knack for authentically embodying the minds of his characters — in this case a teenage boy — place him a step well above most of his peers.

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