Violent, unexplained phenomena put a family in harm’s way in Wahl’s (Ride the Giant Wolf, 2013) spectral thriller.
A bridge is mysteriously destroyed, a man goes missing, and power outages and inexplicable weather plague a small Ohio town. David Macklin, a Navy SEAL on leave, returns to his family’s local farm, but his father, a Vietnam veteran, doesn’t seem to know much about the strange goings-on in town. Caddo, a Native American farmhand who served with David’s father, seems to know more, but he’s dodging everyone’s questions. But as the happenings continue to stump local and state authorities, David has other pressing matters to deal with: His family’s farm, once a sprawling landmark of rural Ohio, is nearly bankrupt. David investigates with the help of Alexa Wilde, a local journalist, and begins to suspect that an old feud with a neighboring family, the Treshlers, may be behind the farm’s recent troubles. Meanwhile, David’s sister, Elly, undertakes an investigation of her own. While reading old texts at the local library, she comes across a manuscript by Henry J. Purdy, a man obsessed with ghosts and spirits; he believed that in a previous life he was present for a battle between Mohawk Indians and British soldiers known as “the War of Blood.” While everyone else is occupied, Caddo keeps disappearing into the woods to perform a secret ritual. Wahl expertly layers each narrative thread into his story, pushing the disturbing plot forward while developing a tale of two fighting families. It makes for a thriller that’s difficult to put down, as nearly every page reveals something new. As the characters find themselves pulled deeper into the worsening situation, words and phrases such as “Revenant,” “Halting Place” and “Charik waik-ta” keep coming up; the author offers only tantalizing glimpses of the truth until the final, climactic face-off.
A fine thriller greatly enhanced by Wahl’s superb attention to detail.