I rarely read horror novels, and even rarer for me to read a contemporary one. Yet there is something about Edward Lorn‘s novels resembling peanut butter cups, fizzy drinks, or crack cocaine (the quality stuff, not the cheap stuff); I simply don’t want to put his book down once I have started one. It’s that simple. The prose is elegant in it’s simplicity, taking the reader easily from page to page, one plot point to the next, and in this case, bouncing back and forth between Ella’s memories and her present predicament.
Often a story is told through the eyes of the abused, or sympathetic friend or future lover, perhaps a neighbor. I have not read too many books where the point of view is the mother of the abused. I often wavered back and forth in sympathy for Ella, who suffered verbal and emotional abuse by her husband Phil just as surely as her son Dane suffered verbal, emotional, and physical abuse. Yet she had more than one opportunity to either remove Phil from their lives or them from his life and did not take it. Lorn reveals these two sides through memories like little crackly nuggets throughout the tale of Ella’s current plight, starting with the funeral.
Once Dane’s body is in the ground, the hauntings begin and just become more unpleasant with time. Add to that her frustration with being hounded by a certain reporter, Sven Godel, and some local hooligans spray painting her house. But with each haunting, Dane gain more and more strength until finally he is able to manifest enough to kill again and collect a few more teeth. “The teeth shall lead you home,” is an eery phrase that is used to a good effect throughout the book, young Dane having lost several to his dad’s fists.
The book often felt like it took place more east than Colorado, though this could just be my perceptions. I sometimes felt that the syntax didn’t match desert Southwest, but this was partially explained by Phil Peters being from Georgia. While I initially found Ella’s religious nature and her mild homophobia off-putting, I soon saw that these things were part of her character and not a judgement or preaching from the author.
The story soon leaves Well Being, CO as Dane wants his mom to meet his girlfriend, Melissa Dugan in Roanoke, VA. Sven and Ella are forced into close quarters, at first despising one another. Quickly, they must form an uneasy alliance. While I had guessed what reason Dane had for bringing his mom and Melissa together, I did not see the final twist coming. In the end, I like this book because there are truths wrapped up in an engaging narrative and because it made me think and feel. Most authors that I enjoy can elicit one or the other out of me; only a handful can do both.