Drago writes with a keen eye for detail, and his characters are immediately appealing and multi-faceted. Gabriela’s struggles with leaving her home country and fitting into a small town are rendered sympathetically. Brad Gleason, the beleaguered but competent Crow Creek sheriff, is equally likable. The two have an undeniable chemistry that’s refreshing and doesn’t feel forced, and Drago balances the development of their relationship with the increasingly desperate paranormal situation. It’s clear that Brad is older than mid-20s Gabriela—he served in the military, was married, and had a child before Gabriela was born—but she’s not unworldly; she reminisces about a previous sexual relationship in which she was the more experienced partner. Their May-December romance is plausibly handled and sweetly affectionate.
Drago breathes new life into the common tropes of a small town holding awful secrets, town residents not being what they seem, and the local medical facility testing drugs on an unassuming population. Seasoned horror readers will appreciate how familiar concepts end up serving the larger narrative in a satisfying way. This novel stands alone, but new readers will eagerly pick up the earlier installments to learn more about the strange goings-on in Crow Creek.
Takeaway: This intricate novel’s believable small-town setting and likable protagonists will draw in readers of supernatural horror.
Great for fans of Stephen King’s ’Salem’s Lot, Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A