A teenage boy is possessed by a demon.
There is a tunnel near the park where the local high school kids smoke, drink, and canoodle. The most daring teens run through the tunnel and come out possessed by a demon. The tunnel is called Falter Kingdom, and one afternoon, disaffected senior Hunter finds himself hanging out by the tunnel with his friends. (Absent racial cues, readers will likely infer that he’s white.) After a couple beers, Hunter runs through the tunnel, contracting a demon that goes by H. Hunter could get an exorcism, but he likes the spark H brings to his life, despite the demon’s villainous motivations. Told through Hunter’s first-person, present-tense perspective, occasionally addressing H as “you” and other times adopting “we” as the demon digs in, the novel sets up an interesting idea but does very little with it. Hunter is an unappealing protagonist, with little apparent ambition or investment. His possession muddles his motivations and characteristics, but everyone around him is so flat and his relationships so attenuated, there’s little emotional resonance. The novel thuds on and on, hitting the same brooding note over and over, and when the violent climax finally comes there’s simply not enough on the line for readers to care.
An ennui-soaked misfire. (Horror. 14-17)