A secret war comes to a small Minnesota town as teenagers fight both literal and figurative demons.
Lit up by the inspired writing and axe work of frontman Anders Thorson, the metal band Last Things has begun to draw more than local notice even though its members aren’t yet out of high school. But along with uneasy memories of a conversation with a strange visitor who left him with a guitar and a promise that all his dreams of rock stardom would be coming true, Anders is increasingly weighed down with a feeling that his wild talents came out of nowhere and could just as easily disappear. There’s something to that insight, it turns out—as in alternating chapters Thea, a peculiarly inconspicuous recent arrival, sees the seemingly ordinary town hemmed in by dark forces and Anders in imminent danger of surrendering to them out of ignorance. West (The Collectors, 2018, etc.) goes for a slow build while framing her two narrators as one music-smitten teen approaching a realistic stay-or-go crossroads in his life and another who could well be just an oddball….Anders eventually finds not only his music, but the very lives of everyone he cares about threatened. Fortunately, come the wild, scary climax, Thea turns out to be much more than she appears. The cast is evidently all white.
A little patience pays ample dividends in a suspenseful tale wrought from power chords, creeping darkness, and disquieting twists. (Fantasy. 13-16)