A sloppy suspense novel--Duncan (Night Terrors, 1996, etc.) unsuccessfully charts a plot full of witchcraft, ESP,...

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GALLOWS HILL

A sloppy suspense novel--Duncan (Night Terrors, 1996, etc.) unsuccessfully charts a plot full of witchcraft, ESP, reincarnation, book-burning, and fortune-telling, as well as an utterly incredible chain of events. When Sarah's mother inexplicably falls in love with Ted, a tyrant, she gives up her job and home so they can move to his small town. Since he is separated from his wife, Sarah's mother is the ""other woman"" in a Peyton Place--style community where it is nearly impossible for Sarah to make friends. When she poses as a fortune-teller at a school carnival, Sarah actually sees the future in her crystal ball, an ability that results in the widespread suspicion that she is a witch. With a heavy hand, Duncan draws parallels to the witchcraft trials of 17th-century Salem. When Sarah faces hanging at the hands of a drunken mob of kids, Charlie--son of a bookseller whose store was torched for selling ""books that people didn't approve of""--saves her by convincing his classmates that they were all in Salem in a past life, and need to put it behind them. In addition to such implausible scenes, some subplots simply trail off, teenagers sound like adults, and too many characters are suddenly versed in witchcraft. Readers are repeatedly informed that the town is ""conservative"" and churchgoers are uniformly hypocritical. Bleakly shallow.

Pub Date: May 1, 1997

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 221

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1997