Tremblay excels at atmospheric unease even if the story he’s spinning isn’t always as rich as its milieu.



A teenage boy’s mysterious disappearance from a local park leads his family and friends to contemplate supernatural influences.

Elizabeth Sanderson thinks nothing of letting her 13-year-old son, Tommy, sleep over at his friend Josh’s house, a common summer occurrence in the sleepy Boston suburb of Ames. But when Josh calls in the middle of the night, wondering if Tommy is back home, everything changes. Turns out Tommy, Josh, and their friend Luis snuck out, beers stuffed in backpacks, and headed for Borderland, the sprawling state park nearby, where Tommy ran off. Tremblay (A Head Full of Ghosts, 2015) makes it clear from the start that the half-truths Josh and Luis are peddling to their parents and the cops are barely that, but he’s not entirely successful at maintaining tension over Tommy’s ultimate fate. Elizabeth tries, somewhat unsuccessfully, to hold it together for her younger child, 11-year-old Kate, who becomes a virtual recluse in the wake of her brother’s disappearance. Though Elizabeth appears levelheaded, after she sees what she comes to believe is the ghost of her son crouching in her bedroom late one night, she becomes convinced that Tommy is dead. As the lives of the three boys prior to the fateful night take shape through flashbacks and somewhat clumsily inserted entries from Tommy's diary, which Elizabeth finds, the potential paranormal aspects—particularly the local mythology surrounding the boys’ hangout spot of Devil’s Rock—become almost as believable as the police investigation that’s grounded in reality.

Tremblay excels at atmospheric unease even if the story he’s spinning isn’t always as rich as its milieu.

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-236326-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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This is good Hemingway. It has some of the tenderness of A Farewell to Arms and some of its amazing power to make one feel inside the picture of a nation at war, of the people experiencing war shorn of its glamor, of the emotions that the effects of war — rather than war itself — arouse. But in style and tempo and impact, there is greater resemblance to The Sun Also Rises. Implicit in the characters and the story is the whole tragic lesson of Spain's Civil War, proving ground for today's holocaust, and carrying in its small compass, the contradictions, the human frailties, the heroism and idealism and shortcomings. In retrospect the thread of the story itself is slight. Three days, during which time a young American, a professor who has taken his Sabbatical year from the University of Montana to play his part in the struggle for Loyalist Spain and democracy. He is sent to a guerilla camp of partisans within the Fascist lines to blow up a strategic bridge. His is a complex problem in humanity, a group of undisciplined, unorganized natives, emotionally geared to go their own way, while he has a job that demands unreasoning, unwavering obedience. He falls in love with a lovely refugee girl, escaping the terrors of a fascist imprisonment, and their romance is sharply etched against a gruesome background. It is a searing book; Hemingway has done more to dramatize the Spanish War than any amount of abstract declamation. Yet he has done it through revealing the pettinesses, the indignities, the jealousies, the cruelties on both sides, never glorifying simply presenting starkly the belief in the principles for which these people fought a hopeless war, to give the rest of the world an interval to prepare. There is something of the implacable logic of Verdun in the telling. It's not a book for the thin-skinned; it has more than its fill of obscenities and the style is clipped and almost too elliptical for clarity at times. But it is a book that repays one for bleak moments of unpleasantness.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 1940

ISBN: 0684803356

Page Count: 484

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1940

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