In this debut supernatural thriller, a young woman is abducted and forced to live in a secret community run by immortals.
As teenagers in Framingham, Conn., Laura and Bobby once broke into the abandoned—and supposedly haunted—McPherson house. While exploring, a raspy voice said, “LAURA, I WANT YOUR FIRSTBORN!” Now a college student, Laura is seven months pregnant and happily married to Bobby. Everything has been proceeding smoothly, until, while in the bathtub, she hears the same raspy voice from her youth. Confronting the strangeness, Laura revisits the McPherson property. This time, however, she can’t leave after exploring: A mysterious force prevents her exit. In the kitchen closet, she finds a hidden tunnel with a lever inside, but when she pulls it, she loses consciousness only to awake in a system of caves. Once outside, she meets a man named Thomas, who walks her to the village of Hanrahan. She learns that this farming community (which exists outside the real world) is governed by the Lords of Hanrahan, siblings whom God has granted immortality for their good deeds back the 19th century. Tragically, Laura also learns that she, a pregnant woman, has been permanently “transferred” to Hanrahan to help serve the community. Nevertheless, she prays for the determination to escape. First-time author Tooker pulls readers deep into his realm with clean, inviting prose. Narrative tension then builds incredibly, as a chilling atmosphere surrounds Laura. “Nobody from your world can come here unless they are summoned,” Thomas tells her. Bobby and the Framingham police are portrayed effectively in their desperate search for her. Occasionally, however, tenses in the story can hiccup; for example, “He liked her as soon as he met her, and now he has much admiration for her.” More frustrating is that in the cultish land of Hanrahan, the Lords aren’t condemned as evil or insane, even though their “summoning” of pregnant women shatters families. As the tale wraps up, there’s a bewildering lack of outrage from the characters; instead, there’s an emphasis on the power of prayer.
Quite the page-turner, despite its imperfections.