When the phone rings in the middle of the night, Elizabeth knows it can't be anything good.
It's her son's friend, Josh, asking if Tommy has returned home. The teen was supposed to be on a sleep over at Josh's house with their friend Luis, but after a late night trip to the local state park Tommy took off running into the woods. The police are called, a search team is sent out, and still no sign of Tommy. But as days pass, Elizabeth starts to see things she thinks are signs: pages from Tommy's journals start to appear in her living room and she swears she's seen his shadow. And as more time goes by, everyone begins to wonder if the boys are really telling the truth about the night Tommy disappeared.
Paul Tremblay is the man Stephen King says "...scared the living hell..." out of him. You don't get any better horror endorsement than that in my opinion!
I love how slowly Disappearance at Devil's Rock plays out, and paired with the slow build is an urgent and increasing sense of dread. From the moment Elizabeth's phone rings, the reader knows well that nothing good is going to happen. And yet you do hold out hope, along with Elizabeth's daughter, Kate, that Tommy will be found. Elizabeth herself becomes convinced early on that Tommy has died and her reason for this belief is one of the many elements that adds to the tense atmosphere of the story.
Bits and pieces of the family's life come into focus as the story progresses, including the rather strange circumstances of Tommy's father's death. Tommy himself is shown to have become increasingly curious and possibly even obsessed about his father's final days, adding to the many questions surrounding his disappearance.
I have a small confession to make at this time - I had expectations of Disappearance at Devil's Rock that I thought were completely my own. The title and premise reminded me so much of Picnic at Hanging Rock that I entered into Tremblay's tale anticipating some common themes. And I thought it was all in my head. As it turns out, I wasn't wrong in my preconceived notions. Tremblay stated himself that, "Peter Weir’s Picnic at Hanging Rock is one of three Australian films that heavily influenced the novel." This makes a horror fan happy indeed.
That quote comes from Tremblay's June 26 blog post, a post he calls his liner notes for Disappearance. I'll link that for you here but do be warned, it is spoilerific and should not be read until you've completed the book.
Disappearance does, for the most part, fall into a much quieter horror category. One whose focus is on atmosphere and unanswered questions. This is no splatterpunk gore fest but rather a tale that will haunt you with its unease and subtleness.
To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour post here.
For more on Paul Tremblay and his work you can visit his website here. You can also like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter and Instagram.
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