A family encounters strange people and even stranger creatures during a nightmarish summer vacation in this debut novel.
The Nunios family getaway may not be relaxing for 16-year-old Alison. It means close quarters with her shiftless older brother and fresh high school graduate, Michael, and her constantly feuding parents. Luckily, best friend Olivia’s along for the trip, though her company’s a persistent reminder that, with Olivia’s family moving, the two will be separated for the upcoming school year. Cape November is nostalgic for Alison’s parents, who recall visiting the place in their youth and hearing the local legend of Cappy the sea monster. But bizarre occurrences start before they’ve reached Cape November; the minivan apparently hits something, and stopping to check an object lying in the road leads to an attack from a giant bird and biting insects. Their hotel in the Cape, meanwhile, is the spooky Maggie’s Mansion, where they’re awakened by a scream in the dark. None of this, however, prepares them for a town of hooded figures and creepy kids with sharp sticks. There are stories of missing residents, which may soon include Alison’s mysteriously absent parents or the teen herself. Favetta saves most of the horrors for later, wisely spending the first half of the eerie tale developing characters. Alison, for one, who’s smart but sometimes condescending (derisively dubbing Michael a “genius”), is fittingly counterbalanced by astute and empathetic Olivia. Romance, too, is understated: Olivia’s openly gay, while Alison’s clearly attracted to her but seems conflicted. The author drops hints of what’s coming: pictures of a tentacled beast and Olivia seeing hooded men menacingly approach the minivan. The potent final act is best left unspoiled, but entails otherworldly creatures, visceral death, and shades of H.P. Lovecraft. Formidable Alison and Olivia bolster a feminist theme, prevalent in keen, self-deprecating dialogue: when Alison fears that fleeing makes them look like scared girls, Olivia remarks, “We are a couple of scared girls.”
An intense bag of horror goodies, fortified by strong female protagonists.