cover image Camp Damascus

Camp Damascus

Chuck Tingle. Nightfire, $25.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-250-87462-7

Erotica author Tingle (Space Raptor Butt Invasion) makes his full-length, traditionally published debut with an eerie but empowering queer horror story. Neverton, Mont., is home to the Kingdom of the Pines, a Christian sect whose claim to fame is their conversion therapy program, Camp Damascus. At the novel’s start, autistic narrator Rose Darling is a god-fearing 20-year-old high school senior (“Kingdom kids” take two years off school to study the Bible) who has fully bought into the sect’s ideology and is proud of Camp Damascus’s “100 percent success rate.” Then she vomits up bugs at family dinner and begins seeing demonic apparitions whenever she experiences desire toward women—especially her friend Martina, who winds up murdered by one of these demons. It becomes apparent that Rose’s parents and her so-called therapist are gaslighting her, a creeping sensation compounded by flashes of memory of a relationship with a woman. The first act is an exercise in slowly mounting dread; then, once the pieces of Rose’s past fall into place, she sets out on a righteous revenge mission. It’s a fresh take on the exorcism trope, made richer by biblical allusions and subtle engagement with Peter Pan. With plenty of crossover YA appeal, this chilling page-turner should win Tingle a slew of new fans. Agent: Dongwon Song, Howard Morhaim Literary. (July)