A Texas family that runs a haunted house is haunted by monsters for decades.
This ambitious, grotesque debut novel is a love letter to H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos, so it may not be the easiest horror novel to parse or explain. That said, this is a very scary coming-of-age tale that lives in the same space as Stranger Things, Stand By Me, and Stephen King’s It (1986). The story is told by Noah Turner, who matter-of-factly recounts the dark and terrible fortunes of his family. He opens with the sweet romance between his parents, Harry and Margaret, who marry and start a comic book store and a haunted house called The Wandering Dark in the small town of Vandergriff, Texas. But terrible things keep happening, including Harry’s untimely death, Margaret’s bottomless grief, the sudden disappearance of Noah’s oldest sister, Sydney, and his sister Eunice’s crippling mental illness, not to mention the increasingly frequent disappearances of children from Vandergriff. These events would be frightening by themselves, but Hamill adds another layer by introducing a huge supernatural creature that turns up on Noah’s doorstep one night and declares it's his friend while giving him a few magical powers to boot. But things like giant monsters always turn out to be something...else, and in Noah’s adolescence, this one does, too. The way Hamill weaves his way between the phantasmagorical elements and Noah’s everyday dramas is nimble in a way reminiscent of King, who practically invented this narrative style. Creepy interstitial entries dubbed “The Turner Sequences” flesh out the fates of Noah’s family. Eventually, an older Noah meets a group of people calling themselves The Fellowship who can also see these monsters, and Noah’s instinct is to run as far away as possible. But darkness unleashed can never really be escaped, and readers are bound to find themselves shuddering at the novel's lurid denouement.
An accomplished, macabre horror saga and a promising debut from an imaginative new author.