It’s easy to see why some dislike this book. It’s much less of a spooky horror novel and much more of a family tragedy as they try to cope with the disappearance of 14 year old Tommy. It eschews a definite supernatural angle or clear plot direction and instead relies on emotional trauma and very acute depictions of grief. Which is why this book (that I’m fortunate enough to have a signed copy of) works.
The emotional ripples that the Sanderson family endures are sharp, subtle, and devastating brutal. I’m not a parent, but reading this book is probably the closest I’ll (hopefully) come to know what it’s like to have a child go missing. Tremblay lets us sink into the grief and confusion and bewilderment inch by tortuous inch. The ending is just nuanced enough to let us guess, but for those paying attention there’s a tragic underlying that I’ve never really seen done before.
My preference is for horror novels to dial up the creepy and visceral imagery up several notches, and I expect many readers will be disappointed the book doesn’t do that. But given the choice of tools Tremblay uses, he’s outdone himself. If minimalist, quiet horror is your thing, plunge into this one.