Terrified for her safety, a single mother and her daughter, a preternaturally calm girl with the mystical ability to create a powerful “air of peace,” flee to the woods in a tale of personal agendas amplified by paranormal horror.
Lanie Truitt chooses the home of Eve Faulkner as a safe location for Seren as her powers become known. But they’ve been trailed to the retreat on the lake: an investigator working double duty for both Seren’s grandfather and Lanie’s friend Jena Garmon; the hired gun commissioned to kill Lanie and deliver Seren; the rapist policeman who followed Lanie from Miami to teach her a lesson; and most importantly, Jena’s son, Felix, a sheltered but psychopathic 14-year-old who takes finding his beloved friend Seren into his own hands after his mother disappears. Felix also has powers of manifestation, mind control and the ability to alter physical reality. Most characters’ internal monologues feel like character sketches, with clear agendas and plenty of information but little subtlety in personality. References to back story, which is often filled out later, can be bizarrely abrupt: “For the most part he did well, except when he blew a woman’s head and hands off.” As a sequel to Black Days (2011), the novel puts a significant secondary focus on the transformation of the cursed Faulkner family via their newfound wealth and hereditary healing powers, which will make sense to readers already invested in those characters. However, for deeper, more satisfying terror, the story could reduce the number of points of view and tighten the lens on the unusual children, particularly the dangerous combination of their undeveloped problem-solving skills and their incredible power. Also, to pack more punch, the narrative could investigate the compelling reasons why these women would do anything to protect their special children. Often, though, elements of the broader series get in the way of this episode’s effective storytelling.
A fantastically scary premise marred by putting a complex plot before raw emotion.