Set in the remote Maine town of New Hope in the late 1980s, this exceptional debut novel is an enticing blend of supernatural fiction, horror and one young woman’s coming-of-age.
This novel—which works equally well as a YA or adult read—revolves largely around almost-17-year-old Miri Jones, daughter of the town’s police chief. Attractive, intelligent, athletic and tenaciously inquisitive, Jones’ dream is to follow somewhat in her father’s footsteps, perhaps working as an investigator for the FBI. When she discovers the corpse of a young man while jogging on a woodland trail, she embraces her inner Nancy Drew and vows to solve the mystery, even though her father warns her to stay away. With her babysitting charge—13-year-old Christopher Marlowe—as partner, the young detective duo sets out to unravel the circumstances leading up to the bizarre murder. Marlowe, however, is hiding a bombshell of a secret, and once Jones discovers what Marlowe is concealing, the investigation takes a horrific turn. Jones’ worldview is obliterated when she learns that not only do creatures such as vampires and werewolves exist—they are in her own town! Accompanied by a small group of friends, Jones and Marlowe uncover jaw-dropping revelations that could very well get them—and those they love—brutally killed. So many aspects of the story are outstanding: character development, plot intricacy, innovative twists on old myths, setting—Hobbs nails the late ’80s vibe with references to Van Halen, Bob Seger, Steve Grogan of the New England Patriots, etc.—and narrative intensity. Also of note is the novel’s sardonic sense of humor; even in the most perilous of situations, the teenage protagonists still have wits enough to come up with some great comments: e.g., “By the way, there’s a lot of vampire crap at the library.” It’s fitting that Stephen King is mentioned in the storyline. This debut from Hobbs, who was raised in Maine, is very much comparable in tone and ambiance to King’s debut novel, Carrie (1974).
’Salem’s Lot meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer with incredible results.