New Fiction: Disappearance at Devil’s Rock – Paul Tremblay

Tremblay has a cadre of Indie booksellers who are among the most dedicated fans I’ve seen this side of Neil Gaiman’s. His shrewd, thoughtful “horror” recalls the elegant inventions of Shirley Jackson in their ability to employ wit and social commentary while flat out scaring the pants off you.

Tremblay’s last book, A Head Full of Ghosts, is now out in paper and just won the 2015 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Novel. I think the many of us who are Tremblay’s fans would agree with Stephen King when he tweeted:

King Tweet

This new book again blends psychological suspense, supernatural horror, and literary fiction. It arrives with two starred reviews and a ton of praise. I’m going to turn the analysis over to a bookseller friend whose consistently astute assessments of literary “genre” fiction are ones I’ve come to count on.

Disappearance at Devil’s Rock is far more unsettling and eerie than A Head Full of Ghosts. In other words, it’s some of the most brilliant horror writing of the twenty-first century. What is it about Tremblay’s work which has the ability to impact the reader on a primal level?  Let’s forget about the horror of a missing child for a moment: Tommy Sanderson’s disappearance is the nightmare of every parent; one the horror genre has presented many times.  Tremblay’s ability to portray Tommy, his friends Josh and Luis, his mother Elizabeth and his sister Kate as wholly realized and recognizable characters drives the horror of a missing child home with razor-sharp clarity. Finally, there’s the reader’s recognition of how our simple human flaws can allow for the intrusion of overwhelming evil into our lives. This fact raises an amazing work of horror to a level of awe-inspiring skill. I was haunted for days.”
— Karen Tallant, The Booksellers at Laurelwood, Memphis, TN

“Tremblay does a masterful job of creating two worlds often at odds with each other — the world of a single mother struggling to stay afloat and the world of her young teenage son struggling to identify his role among peers. This tense, quick-moving story, part mystery and part folktale with a dash of police procedural, moves between points of view that offer tantalizing clues and moments of discomfort. The result is a satisfying piece of fiction that shifts genres underneath the reader.”
Booklist (starred review)

“Intense emotions of fear and alienation carve direct paths to the supernatural in this tightly plotted and atmospheric novel. Young Tommy’s disappearance in Borderland State Park, Mass., near haunted Devil’s Rock, throws his mother, Elizabeth Sanderson, into a maelstrom of guilt….Tremblay uses concise prose and smooth storytelling to evoke raw emotion in this tale of love, loss, and terror. Sympathetic characters and heartbreaking struggles replace genre stereotypes and tropes. The menacing atmosphere captures small-town isolation and hopelessness. This stunning and tantalizing work of suggestive horror is sure to please admirers of Stephen King and Peter Straub.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Tremblay peels back the layers of a quaint New England town to expose the ugly underbelly of family life in the U.S.  This is a family haunted – haunted by unanswered questions from the past, by the harsh real world intruding upon children’s lives, and haunted, perhaps, by the ghost of a boy who may or may not be dead.  Tremblay approaches the various sections of the book in various ways; some are straight-forward narratives, some are diary pages, while others are interviews conducted by the police, and he is always one step ahead of the reader.  It’s the hand of a masterful storyteller at work, and Disappearance at Devil’s Rock is a shocking, scary, and disturbing ride.”
— William Carl, Wellesley Books, Wellesley, MA

“Just finished Disappearance at Devil’s Rock….It had a slow burning quality to it, all the spooky stuff just kind of simmered under the surface until you were uneasy and unable to pinpoint why. I appreciated the lack of cheap tricks and jump scares. The characters were also handled with some serious finesse.”
— Brittany Jackson, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Lexington, KY

Disappearance at Devil’s Rock (9780062363268) by Paul Tremblay. $25.99 hardcover. 6/21/16 on sale.

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