A sci-fi/horror YA novel that focuses on a small town in the shadow of an ancient phenomenon known as the Tor.
When 14-year-old Jackson moves to his aunt’s old house in the tiny town of Boswell, things get off to a rather ominous start. His mother accidentally hits a strange creature with her car as they drive into the town during a storm. Soon, Jackson learns of a series of murders plaguing Boswell and of a legendary hill known as the Tor that looms over his new house; the hill stands in the middle of a lifeless wasteland that no one has ever braved without dying. The mystery deepens when Jackson discovers a chest buried on his aunt’s property containing papers and coded messages that imply that the Tor may not be as abandoned as it seems. When Jackson and his new friend Carl finally dare to take a journey up the hill, they discover a terrifying extraterrestrial life form that could threaten the entire town. Could it be connected to the murders? Debut author Campbell has a knack for creepy and gory details, and several ominous passages may give goose bumps to even the most levelheaded readers. The Tor, with its soupy, sulfuric smog, and the surrounding town, with its eerie, abandoned storefronts, are reminiscent of something out of The Twilight Zone. Jackson is a smart, enjoyable protagonist with a healthy amount of attitude, but the story occasionally feels a tad old-fashioned; Carl’s sister Cheryl, for example, spends most of her time watching the boys through a telescope instead of joining them on their adventures. As the first novel in a planned series, readers won’t expect everything to be wrapped up, but the ending still may be more open-ended than some might like. The mysteries are not really solved, but readers will likely be eager for future installments.
A pleasing, atmospheric YA adventure.