An old-fashioned ghost story plays on primal fears: parents turning on children, the dread of what is out there, and the horror of what might be within.
Teen Amanda has been playing out in the woods, and she hasn’t been playing alone. Against all teachings of her religious family—and after suffering a devastating breakdown the previous winter—she is now “with child” and trying to hide her secret in the family’s crowded mountain cabin. Set in the unspecified past, the tale is reminiscent of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s, even including parents called Ma and Pa. Relocation by ox-drawn wagon begins when Pa decides to follow rumors of a better life available out on the prairie, and soon, true to the genre, they move into a cabin thick with old blood and gore. Amanda laments, “I’m starting to believe that Hell is everywhere,” and readers won’t disagree. There’s pestilence in the form of ants, feverish plague, and evil of, well, biblical proportion; Job has nothing on this family. This is nightmare on the prairie, and on the mountain, and in the woods, and pretty much everywhere in between; the only real question is which devil will get them: the one within Amanda or the ones circling the cabin? The fast pace and period dialogue mesh reasonably well.
Best read late at night in a tent with a trusted friend nearby…. (Horror. 14 & up)