A group of teenagers find strange prints seared into the ground around their campsite. They follow the tracks, thinking it will lead to fun.
But it doesn’t. They eventually arrive at the edge of Alvaretta Graves’s property-house of the legendary Riverwood Witch. When an agrument that arises turns violent, Alvaretta places a curse on them. The sickness comes the next day, gripping residents one by one. Fear overtakes the town, and panic soon follows.
The posse that makes its way back to the witch’s home is armed with guns and Bibles and is searching for an end to the sickness and violence. But they are in no way prepared for what they discover there.
My review: This book has so many thoughts rolling around in my head, I’m not sure where to start. I think it is one of those books that could spark many an interesting conversation. It is a very well written story, but there is a lot to digest in it. The biggest problem I had with this book is that it introduced so many characters, that I felt bombarded and distracted trying to keep them all straight. By the time I really got a good grip on who everyone was, I was halfway through the book and felt like I missed out on a lot because of that. Now that I’ve finished the book, I almost feel like re-reading it so that I can better comprehend the story.
And, what a story it is! The story is told by an unnamed narrator, who is revealed at the very end. On the surface, it’s a story about a town full of people, a history full of secrets and a curse that affects them all. At it’s very core, it’s a story about human nature, sin, good vs. evil, God vs. the devil, lies, deceit and betrayal.
This book and it’s author do an excellent job at depicting how things can spiral out of control when people let sin, guilt, shame, fear, paranoia and judgement take over and don’t look to God for guidance. People have a tendency to blame God and each other for things they can’t control or understand. The author has created a town full of multi-dimensional characters, and it was really interesting seeing the layers of each character unfold. This book showed how our own sinful nature works against us and how easily we can be led astray if we aren’t careful to be aware of it, and to remain close to God when life starts to unravel.
Once I got to know the characters, I really started to understand and relate to certain ones. My favorite characters were Bucky, Scarlett and John David. I also thought Chessie was an interesting and strong character. I don’t know if the author will revisit these characters in future novels, but I would love the opportunity to get to know them better.
This book is dark, complicated and chilling. It serves the reader to make them more aware of their humanity, natural inclination toward sin and ultimately their desperate need for God. It’s a sad tale, but a satisfying one, and one that thankfully, does not leave the reader without hope. I am definitely curious to read more by this author in the future.
* I received a copy of this book free of charge from Thomas Nelson and BookLook Bloggers, in exchange for my honest review.