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Book Review: Disappearance at Devil's Rock by Paul Tremblay

William Morrow
Book: Disappearance at Devil's Rock

Author: Paul Tremblay

Genre: Fiction

Subgenre: Thriller, supernatural, mystery

My Review and Thoughts: Let me preface this book review by stating that I LOVED Paul Tremblay's previous book, A Head Full of Ghosts. It was the perfect blend of realistic fiction, thriller, and the (supposed) supernatural and by page two I was hooked and was literally shocked at the ending. It was well written, perfectly paced, and pretty much just a thrill ride to read. So I was incredibly excited to learn that Tremblay had a new book coming out, called Disappearance at Devil's Rock, and it would again be a work of fiction, with some supernatural undertones. I said SIGN ME UP and read it the minute it came into my library (I like to read the book from the library first, then if I actually like it, I eventually buy it. Don't worry, my favorite authors are getting money from me). But after all of this anticipation, honestly, I'm feeling pretty let down. Let me explain:

The story centers on the disappearance of fourteen year old Tommy Sanderson, last seen by his friends Luis and Josh in the state park woods where they would hang out (secretly) at a large, hill-sized rock nicknamed the Devil's Rock. Tommy's mother, Elizabeth, and Tommy's younger sister, Kate, are worried sick about Tommy as the police start searching for him- until Elizabeth sees a shadowy figure in her room who closely resembles Tommy. Then pages of Tommy's journal start mysteriously appearing page by page on the floor of the house at night. Is Tommy doing it? Is he still alive? Or is he dead? Did Josh and Luis really tell the police and Elizabeth everything that happened the night Tommy disappeared? Because according to Tommy's scribbled and sketched journals, an unknown person may have entered the boys' lives and brought the significance of Devil's Rock to a deadly outcome. Was there something unnatural afoot or was it simply a much more simple, dangerous explanation?

Sounds pretty thrilling, right? And it was. For about the first half of the book. Elizabeth was a compelling character, a mother who's husband had left her, then had himself mysteriously disappeared and was later found dead. The parallels between her past to her present with her son now missing was striking and made the foreboding quality of the wait even more nerve-wracking. The detective in charge of the case was a breath of fresh air among the chaos of the waiting and revealed secrets and familial drama that Elizabeth and Kate went through. The teenage boys relationship between Tommy, Luis, and Josh were further and realistically explored via Josh's and Luis's flashbacks of the events that transpired between the three, along with Tommy's handwritten and illustrated journal entries of which Elizabeth and Kate would discover a page almost every day. The added bonus of a potential supernatural element also added a creepy and sinister quality, along with the supposed folk story of how Devil's Rock got its name (yes, the devil apparently had something to do with it) and how it tied into Tommy's disappearance.

But after the first half, things started to fizzle. What used to seem well written and well paced now seemed to drag and felt too descriptive, as if the author was trying to fill in the story more before it reached a very vague and unfulfilling conclusion. I expected the ending to be somewhat ambiguous and mysterious, but instead we were given the full story, of exactly what happened, and I felt let down, because I had already pretty much guessed what probably had gone down that night. Yes, there was a fair amount of ambiguity at the end and during the climax, secrets were revealed, the motives and emotions of the parties involved twisted and contorted from that the events that let to the deadly conclusion of Tommy's disappearance. And the sequence where Elizabeth reads the interviews of the people involved that night and her reaction (more like lack of reaction, actually) and her coming to terms with the facts are beautifully and truthfully written. Yet that dramatic series of emotions wasn't enough to appease me of the story lines or even the characters. I was still left feeling very unsatisfied of the book in general. And to me, that was the most frightening part of reading the book.

Should You Read It: Unfortunately, I didn't really like the book. I really, really wanted to! But it felt like, even though wonderfully written, I had almost heard this same story before. Maybe it's because I like to read/watch thrillers/horror books/movies, that I really felt like nothing in it was too surprising or original. But if you haven't read too many horror/thriller books and don't know many of the tropes (and surprisingly, there really weren't any in the book. Which made the conclusion even more disappointing), then you may find the book a tense and entertaining read. Sadly, I didn't feel that way.

Did anyone else read Disappearance at Devil's Rock? What did you think of it? Did you like it? Let me know so we can discuss! (I love discussing books!)


Where to Buy:
Barnes & Noble

Or, check out a copy from your local library!

Disappearance at Devil's Rock
Author Page

Check Out the Author:
Official Author Website
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