Published: October 7, 2014
Source: Postal Book Club
Recommended for readers who do not normally read horror novels
Ever since he nearly drowned in the ocean three years earlier, ten-year-old Jack Peter Keenan has been deathly afraid to venture outdoors. Refusing to leave his home in a small coastal town in Maine, Jack Peter spends his time drawing monsters. When those drawings take on a life of their own, no one is safe from the terror they inspire. His mother, Holly, begins to hear strange sounds in the night coming from the ocean, and she seeks answers from the local Catholic priest and his Japanese housekeeper, who fill her head with stories of shipwrecks and ghosts. His father, Tim, wanders the beach, frantically searching for a strange apparition running wild in the dunes. And the boy’s only friend, Nick, becomes helplessly entangled in the eerie power of the drawings. While those around Jack Peter are haunted by what they think they see, only he knows the truth behind the frightful occurrences as the outside world encroaches upon them all.
Horror is not a genre I normally read. I have read it and I have enjoyed it, but it just isn't the section of the bookstore I tend to go to. The truth is, I have a sort of strange relationship with it. I am one of those people who is scared very, very easily. I can't watch horror movies or listen to ghost stories. Heck, I can't even go into haunted houses. Yet, I'm very rarely scared when I read. In fact, I've only been frightened by 2 books (The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova and Salem's Lot, the first AND LAST horror novel by Stephen King I've read). I think that is why I've stayed away from horror--I felt like it wasn't working for me as it didn't scare me. In time, I realized that getting a creepy or eerie feeling was probably okay and, let's face it, I shouldn't bemoan the absence of nightmares.
So, when I come out and say that I didn't find this book frightening, it should not be taken as a commentary on the work. I did find it eerie, and definitely a little creepy, so that is a win in my book. However, I can't say if reader who are--and want to be--scared by such books would be. I think those of you who fall into that category will have to rely on other reviews to see if this book is spine-tingling.
All that being said, I did find this a solid novel. I don't know if you can much creepier than a creepy kid and, in that department, this book delivers. Jack Peter has been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, although it is clear very quickly to the reader that there is more to the boy than that diagnosis. One of his more major issues is his agoraphobia--a fear of the outdoors. He has not left the house in 3 years, except for necessary trips to the doctor. Instead, he surveys the Maine Coast from the windows in his parents' "dream house."
Jack Peter seems to have 2 outlets--drawing and his friend, Nick. His parents encourage both, but Nick is not so sure about Jack Peter. The two boys have a complex relationship and one that Donohue fleshes out well. The truth is that both boys need each other on one level and resent each other on another. And Nick is not so sure about all the drawings Jack Peter makes with an almost fevered urgency.
That is the canvas on which this story is painted. From here we have ghosts and monsters, family secrets and a mysterious woman. I really don't want to get too far into the plot because I'm not sure how to do so without employing spoilers. I will say this, though...this was a good horror novel for a reader like me, who doesn't read horror very often.
I can't guarantee that this will scare the pants off you, but I do believe that it will suck you in and give you much to think about.
I was not solicited for this review and I received no compensation for this post.