This is a Review: Disappearance at Devil's Rock, by Paul Tremblay

June 21, 2016

Elizabeth Sanderson's son Tommy has gone missing. He was supposed to be spending the night with his friends Josh and Luis, tromping around their private Minecraft server, but a midnight trip into neighboring Borderland State Park has swallowed him up. Josh and Luis's lips are sealed, and it's only over the course of a few hundred twisty, ominous pages that the full truth of their night at Devil's Rock comes out.

At first, I thought I wasn't crazy about this book, but then I remembered what I was comparing it to. Tremblay's A Head Full of Ghosts did such a thorough job of blowing my socks off back in February that anything would have had its work cut out for it as a follow-up. Part of the problem is that I went in expecting more of the same genre, but this books reads much more like a mystery or thriller than a straight-up scare-fest. In A Head Full of Ghosts, there was horror lurking in every room of the Barrett home. Tremblay takes that tasty melodrama down a notch in Disappearance at Devil's Rock, focusing more on the possibly even more horrific reality of a child, a sibling, a friend disappearing in the deep, dark woods.

I loved that Tremblay played around with perspective, taking us inside most of the characters' heads, and I particularly enjoyed it when he switched up the format. Parts of the story are told through handwritten excerpts from Tommy's diary (including a particularly creepy drawing that had me spooked for an entire evening), transcripts of police interviews with Tommy's friends, and present-tense flashbacks of previous visits to the landmark where it all began.

Really, I think my only legitimate problem with the book was the abundance of Minecraft references. Then again, it's a contemporary story revolving around pre-teen boys. How authentic would it have been otherwise?

Disappearance at Devil's Rock has aged well in my memory, and I think any fan of the creepier side of the mystery and thriller genres would enjoy it. Either save A Head Full of Ghosts for later, or know that you're going in for a much different ride.

I received Disappearance at Devil's Rock from William Morrow/HarperCollins for review consideration.

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