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 A six-year-old is kidnapped by his demonic mom--in a fuzzy, soft-core horror yarn from Wright (The School, 1990, etc.) The no-gore, low-shock story opens with 11-year-old C.J. Gale describing to a psychologist how his younger brother, Aaron, vanished from the family car just as C.J., Aaron, and their dad, Miles, were parking at the local mall. C.J.'s monologue is titled ``WHAT HAPPENED THE DAY AARON GOT LOST''; further recountings by C.J. appear under the same title throughout--this sort of building- block narration is a hallmark of Wright's highly stylized, gentle storytelling--and slowly reveal that Aaron was snatched by his mother, Marie (C.J.'s stepmother), who walked out of the Gales' life 18 months before. But Marie's not just any covetous mom--she, we learn incrementally, is a primordial demon, apparently conjured up when Miles, an archaeologist, unearthed the skull of her previous incarnation: Marie evidently killed C.J.'s mom and took her place in Miles's heart in order to give birth to Aaron. And now that she's taken Aaron, Marie, for reasons that remain vague, has also taken to haunting C.J. and Miles--who is suspected by the cops of having done away with his son--by transporting them into a primeval, deeply forested past. The story's extremely scattered second half mostly details Marie's stalking of C.J. and Aaron in that forest; the semisurreal mayhem ends abruptly when Aaron finds an axe and wields it judiciously--though apparently bloodlessly. Golden-eyed Marie and sharply etched if familiar effects- -shrill winds, looming trees, eerie scratchings--provide a few chills, but not enough to solidify Wright's gaseous plotting.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-312-93172-7
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Tor
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1992