WIZRD by Steve Zell


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 First novel, filled with slow-building horror set in Arizona. A once booming center for gold mining, the ghost town of Pinon Rim, whose population a century ago faded overnight, has been reinvigorated by an arts colony. Among the newcomers to the colony are 14-year-old Bryce Willems, who lives with his painter father Trevor, Bryce's new stepmother, Cathleen, and his younger stepsister, Megan, whose poor eyes demand that she wear one black lens. Odd things suddenly are happening in Pinon Rim. A dog goes mad and makes a graveyard for dozens of small, bloody animals in its owner's front yard, and the owner also goes mad and tries to shoot the sheriff. But--is the dog mad or merely a stuffed, dead thing its owner only thinks is marauding? A ten-year-old Navajo boy is found drowned in the nearby creek, apparently having been caught in a flash flood on the reservation and then floated five miles to Pinon Rim. And at a place where no birds sing Meg has discovered a lost entrance to the WiZrd mine--a cave to which she takes Bryce for a rather creepy inspection. Meanwhile, a ghost child only Megan can see hangs around the schoolyard imploringly, and at times she has to cut her way through menacing older kids with an eight-inch knifeblade. It seems that a century ago all the children in Pinon Rim died, perhaps of diphtheria. Bryce in the meantime falls for Connie Bowman, whose family has a ghastly local history. Slowly, in fact, the town from a century ago comes to life, and Rose Bowman is again burned alive as a pariah and scapegoat. At the same time, an ancient blue-and-white force from the cave--the Wizard!--invades the living, and even Megan, Cathleen, and Trevor--like the mad dog- -are sucked empty by it. WELCOME TO HELL a torn banner cries on Front Street.... We've met this force before, but Zell's western motif adds freshness.

Pub Date: Feb. 14th, 1994
ISBN: 0-312-10577-0
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 1993