cover image Dead Spots

Dead Spots

Rhiannon Frater. Tor, $15.99 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-0-7653-3715-3

Breathless action and deep emotions carry this solid horror-fantasy, a fusion of Joseph Campbell and Stephen King. Mackenzie “Mac” Babin is directionless and clinically depressed after her son’s stillbirth and the disintegration of her marriage. She unwittingly enters a world of ghosts and nightmares when she steps inside an abandoned roadside café. Now on the wrong side of a “dead spot”—a trapdoor to a limbo between life and death, where fears, dreams, and imagination determine the landscape—Mac must navigate an apocalyptic, wraith-ridden version of present-day Texas while coming to terms with her own strengths. Handsome, solicitous Grant and rougher, more even-handed Lucas keep her company, but she’s not sure either can be trusted. Frater (the As the World Dies series) recalls her own experiences of grief and depression in the afterword, and she uses those travails to depict Mac’s underworld journey with real pathos, even if the adversaries and obstacles are rarely as suspenseful or surreal as a cast of nightmares calls for. Agent: Hannah Gordon, Foundry Literary + Media. (Feb.)