Reeling from the loss of a child, Maggie finds her job at the local daycare unbearable and errands around town impossible. She knows every child, every single parent, and they're all reminders of what she's lost. Unable to heal, she sinks further into the grip of grief and depression.
Jake is a good guy, a great husband, and wants only the best for his broken wife. Therapy and medications aren't helping, and a change of scenery makes perfect sense. A new home. A fresh start. He is nothing but patient, giving Maggie the space and emotional support needed to move on.
But once they've settled in, Maggie offers him an alternative. And though Jake doesn't believe in ghosts, he plays along with the charade in the name of helping his wife. Until he discovers it's not a game.
They are not alone.
As the subtle activity grows violent, Jake realizes the thing in their house has chosen Maggie as a surrogate mother, and it does not want a father figure. Jake and Maggie's fresh start has become a battlefield, and he's no longer sure which side his wife is on.
Does Jake have the strength to save them both?
After this read, I can say that grief horror is one of my favorite subgenres. It’s so relatable and effective when done right. The Headless Boy now ranks among some of my favorites in this category, alongside Pet Sematary and Remains. It has everything I look for in a well-developed story. Excellent pacing, dialogue, and character development. Can I also mention THAT COVER? It’s reminiscent of the vintage horror paperbacks we all covet, but the quality extends beyond the surface. Trust me when I say that this is more than just a cover buy.
Without a doubt, this is perhaps Kelli Owen's best work to date. It's restrained, populated by deftly written characters, and it creeps along quietly, insidiously, until its fast, furious, bloody end. Having read much of Owen's earliest work, it's clear that this novel shows her at the height of her game. This is an emotionally charged story which will leave you alternating between chilled, moved, and even frustrated at Maggie - how the hell could she be so blind? - and yet you get it, too. You can't blame her, at all. You know that, if perhaps you were in her shoes...you'd probably act the same.