In his latest well-crafted horror novel, Stoker-winner Golden (The Ferryman
) presents a nostalgic, unsentimental portrait of adolescence. A young reporter, Will James, whose career has stalled due to his obsession with debunking the supernatural, returns home for his 10th high school reunion to discover that his memories of the events of his senior year are not only news to his classmates but are actually changing into recollections of much darker events. Youthful experiments with the black arts have set in motion ripples that are altering his present reality in unsettling ways. Will travels back in time to the period immediately before his prom to set things straight, only to realize that someone is actively working to destroy him and his friends—and that person is using more powerful magic than his own. Golden addresses the issue of how one's identity is intimately bound to the memory of one's experiences: change the memory and the personality is changed. More sensitive younger readers will pick up on the book's moral lessons, while adult fans will overlook the didactic element and appreciate the suspenseful plot and strong atmosphere. (Feb. 10)
While hardcore horror fans are likely to find the novel too tame, praise for the author's previous books from a wide range of big names—Clive Barker, Peter Straub, Joe R. Lansdale, Douglas E. Winter—is a reminder that Golden remains someone to watch.