cover image Forsaken


J.D. Barker. Hapton Creek, $22 (340p) ISBN 978-0-9906949-3-9

Barker's ambitious debut is aimed squarely at fans of classic horror, with several references to the work and life of Stephen King ​that, at times, get in the way of appreciating Barker's own story. Novelist Thad McAlister’s latest book is poised to be his greatest triumph, a terrifying fiction based on New England’s witch trials. He learns too late that he and his family are being used by dark forces looking to reclaim their place on Earth. Witches, spells, miniature demons, and personal doubt give fans of horror plenty to latch on to, and the plot moves at a brisk pace. Pages from Thad’s novel are woven in and out of the events in his life, adding complexity to both, and the terror felt by Thad’s pregnant wife, Rachel, and their daughter, Ashley, comes across very well. Unfortunately, the (King-approved) inclusion of the fictional town of Castle Rock, and the biographical parallels between Thad and horror's most famous author, are distracting and diminish an otherwise promising start to a planned series. (BookLife)