Devore has created a vivid cast of emotionally damaged people. Especially well limned are Graves, mourning his long-dead son, and Bovell, whose career Graves destroyed decades before (when he was a debunker of psychic frauds). Their uneasy friendship, born of his desperation to contact his son, David, is touchingly believable. In Rachel, the author deftly dovetails the normal feelings and doubts of a teenage girl with her frightening psychic gifts. Although some characters aren't fully developed and the plot occasionally becomes overheated, the principals neatly carry the story forward, because readers quickly grow to care deeply about them.
Paranormal events abound, and the author delivers some truly terrifying (yet not gory) moments. However, everyday scenes shine equally well. The author has a good ear and eye for the difficulties visited on those who live in rural America. Jason, struggling emotionally in his own life, gets a lesson about rural poverty as frightening as any of the ghostly events. The bone-chilling scenes, firmly grounded with multidimensional characters, will keep readers fully invested in the story, as both earthly and supernatural plotlines merge into a satisfying conclusion.
Takeaway: Fright fans who want their scares in the context of a believable story will find themselves engaged by both the scenes of terror and the rich human drama.
Great for fans of: Stephen King, Anne Rice.
Design and typography: B+
Marketing copy: A-