Two girls are brought together more from ennui than anything else in this riveting tale that brings the murderous history of a disintegrating coastal town into the present.
Rebecca moves to Winterfold with her disgraced father, a policeman accused—but not convicted—of failure to do his duty, which resulted in a death. Her boyfriend quickly moves on, and, left to her own resources, she discovers Ferelith, a girl close in age, but miles away in capacity for dangerous stunts. Neither girl likes the other much, but there’s little else to distract them. Judiciously interspersed are extracts from the 1798 diary of a parson who has met a French newcomer and discovers that they are both fascinated to know what science can tell them of the afterlife. As the grisly experiments of the past are gradually revealed, so do the girls embark on increasingly dangerous games of daring, uneasily testing their trust and knowledge of each other. While at any moment they could walk away from the nightmare that only readers know is unfolding, these casual choices nonetheless lead them onward. The sea is eroding the coast, and the half-demolished buildings perched on cliff tops add a physical component to the unease. Masterfully plotted to keep the suspense ratcheting ever higher.
Wickedly macabre and absolutely terrifying. (Horror. 14 & up)