cover image The Taken

The Taken

Sarah Pinborough, . . Leisure, $6.99 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-8439-5896-6

Pinborough delivers genuine chills in this effective tale of ghostly revenge. Thirty years ago, in the rural town of Watterrow, England, a beautiful, curly-haired 10-year-old named Melanie Parr suffered a fatal accident. Having used her angelic looks to hide a cruel, sociopathic personality, the girl delighted in tormenting her playmates, whose mothers decided to do something about it. Unfortunately for them, that "something" proved deadly. Even more unfortunate, Melanie's come back for revenge, three decades later, thanks to "The Catcher Man," a benign entity that holds children in a state between life and death. Pinborough populates Watterrow with well-defined, sympathetic characters whose reactions, in the face of the unbelievable, ring remarkably true; the struggle of her reluctant heroine, Alex, is thoughtfully balanced between otherworldly horror and the ravages of terminal cancer. Wisely, Pinborough (Breeding Ground ) opts to build suspense subtly, rather than bludgeon readers with horrific imagery or buckets of gore, giving this nicely executed, surprisingly moving ghost story an old-fashioned feel in the best possible sense. (Apr.)