Small Dark Place: A

Martin Schenk, Author Villard Books $23 (356p) ISBN 978-0-375-50074-9
One can't help thinking about what Stephen King would have done with the intriguingly morbid premise of this overwrought debut, a horror thriller in the Guilty Town Gets What's Coming to It vein. ""Fifteen Years Ago"" is the title of the first chapter, in which high-school sweethearts Pete and Sandra Wiley, once the envy of their classmates, have hit rock bottom with the failure of their Wishbone, Kans., farm. Sandra dreams of the good life--and after watching the movie The Big Carnival, she comes up with a plan to get it: if their son Will should happen to get trapped in a drainage pipe, the ensuing media attention will make them rich. But the wrong child--their daughter, Andromeda, who is afraid of the dark--falls into the trap, and falls too into the hands of a monster that lives, according to her, in the roots that have filled the Wiley cellar. The source of her terror is only explained in passing at the end of the novel, after Andie, 15 years older, takes her Carrie-at-the-prom revenge on the townspeople who profited from her five days of terror. The narrative is deadeningly chronological (this tale would have benefited immensely from cross-cutting between past and present). And thanks to shallow characterizations, what should be the horrible revelation of an inhuman act of cruelty comes off as the tawdry thoughtlessness of unlikable people. As for the supernatural element, Schenk never makes his way out from King's long, dark shadow. 100,000 first printing; Literary Guild selection; film rights to New Line Pictures; foreign rights sold in the U.K. and France; BDD audio. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 978-0-609-00079-3
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-553-47920-1
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-8041-1851-4
Mass Market Paperbound - 404 pages - 978-0-345-43047-2
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