Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Whisper Down the Lane by Clay McLeod Chapman

Happy Book Birthday to Clay McLeod Chapman! His latest, Whisper Down the Lane, is out now from Quirk books!

In 1983, a single mother and her son move to a new town for a new start. Instead, they find themselves at the center of a case alleging abuse and satanism at the child's school.

In 2013, a teacher at a small private school finds a mutilated rabbit with a birthday card addressed to that little boy from so long ago.

This latest from Chapman is inspired by the very real McMartin Preschool Trials and Satanic Panic that so gripped the nation in the late 80s and early 90s.

I really wasn't expecting this book to be quite as unsettling as it turned out to be. I'm a seasoned horror reader and most of the stuff I dive into doesn't bother me. 

This one was a bit different.

I've definitely noticed that since I had my son certain themes bother me a lot more than they used to. Don't get me wrong, there are themes that always bothered me, but there are more now that I have a kid and this book hit on some of those HARD!

Richard is still something of the new guy in town. He's recently married to a fellow teacher who has a young son Richard is still trying to bond with. But he doesn't talk about his past and no one knows all that much about him. 

Except someone apparently does. 

The school's dead rabbit left with a birthday card just for him? He's able to cover that one up by being the first person on site. The dead bunny is reported but the card isn't something he's going to share. 

More and more, though, it becomes clear that someone has it in for Richard. And it becomes harder for him to cover that up. 

The parallel story taking place is that of Sean, a five year old who's just moved to a new town with his mother. And he becomes the main witness in a growing case against the teachers at his school. 

The horror here isn't Satanism. It's the human factor. The McMartin Preschool Trials were the Salem Witch Trials of their day. There was a frenzy to the paranoia that drove the case and that's the central horror that is present in Whisper Down the Lane. 

Chapman weaves a story that not only delves into how something like this can come about but how the events and their effects can echo through multiple generations. And yeah, it's deeply disturbing!

Order a copy from your favorite indie via Bookshop!

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