cover image Bride of the Tornado

Bride of the Tornado

James Kennedy. Quirk, $17.99 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-1-68369-327-7

Kennedy (Dare to Know) puts an eerie, surrealist twist on the American Midwest, highlighting everything unusual about small-town living. The unnamed narrator, a teenage girl, introduces readers to a town that is routinely threatened by tornados. Her life is upended when she learns of “the tornado killer,” a local teenage boy with the ability to control winds—and thus the potential to prevent future damage—who seems to be tied into a community-wide conspiracy. As the narrator investigates the boy’s powers and origins, she comes to realize that they have a strange, unspoken bond. Meanwhile, more abnormalities sweep through the town: locals begin wearing odd talismans and other teen girls clad in white ceremonial dresses are led to the house of the town outcast. The narrator’s dread mounts as she races to uncover what’s really going on. The novel runs mostly on vibes, with Kennedy’s dreamlike storytelling occasionally coming at the expense of complete character arcs. Still, the focus on creating a desolate and strange atmosphere pays off. Horror fans who value ambience over jump scares will want to check this out. Agent: John Cusick, Folio Literary. (Aug.)