The first volume of a paranormal horror series delivers a tale about a New England town in the grip of a monstrous cult.
Fourteen-year-old Abigail Thorndike, of Arkham, Massachusetts, lives on the rich side of town. As September arrives, she’s set to enter the prestigious Arkham Academy. Joining Abby will be her best friends, Sindy Endicott and Nate Baxter. As a final summer bash, the trio attends a carnival. There, they encounter a clique of the town’s rich and powerful scions—Bryce Coffin, Charity Duckworth, and Eleazar Grant—among others. Surprisingly, the cool kids allow Abby and her friends to tag along as they raise a ruckus inside the carnival. Later, as Abby is pressured to drink alcohol, her head begins pounding. She escapes the scene only to end up in a mirrored fun house. Inside, she sees nightmare versions of herself before blacking out from intense pain. She wakes up at home in bed and has little choice but to leave for her first day at Arkham Academy. She continues to experience “dizziness and loathing,” but this time after blacking out, she awakens to find the school infested with vile, disc-mouthed fish men. These fearsome creatures have “spines and fins sprouted in irregular patches” across their exposed skin, “colorless and milky” eyes, and “ragged and bloody red” gills. Robinson (The Last Son of Ahriman, 2015, etc.) and Rodriguez (Skylanders: Light in the Dark, 2016) make superb use of author H.P. Lovecraft’s fictional town of Arkham as well as the Deep Ones (anthropoid fish). Commentary on class divisions is plentiful because Nate’s family lives across town, and he and his father work as groundskeepers for the wealthy families. Igniting this page-turner, however, is the mystery behind the Daughters of Arkham, a charitable organization of blue-blooded women, most of whom seem to be widows. While teen drama engulfs Abby, she’s also cursed as the only one who can see Arkham’s fish men. And though the characters are young adults, their liberal use of words like “slut” marks this story for older teens. The end cleverly wraps around an early detail, broadening the saga for its next installment.
A savage YA read filled with fish men, cutting
wit, and supernatural gore.