I’m not quite sure what to make of this book. I inhaled it in a single day while recovering from wisdom teeth removal. Perhaps if I’d taken the drugs the doctor gave me, I’d have experience more of a connection.
First of all, this is not A Head Full of Ghosts. As on the fence as I am about loving or loathing that book, it engaged me, and I had a lot to say.
Not so much in this case.
The premise of Disappearance at Devil’s Rock is right there in the title. There’s a disappearance. There’s a Devil’s Rock. The two may be related.
As in A Head Full of Ghosts, the supernatural elements are ethereal; shadowy figures, random appearances of diary entries: is it real or is it the hallucinogenic effects of grief? (the conflation of the supernatural with a character’s mental instabilities is a trademark Shirley Jackson shout-out). Mental illness again plays a role in the evil acts that surround the beleaguered family of the missing teenager. Both books can be read from competing perspectives: it’s all in the character’s head or it’s a ghost!/demon!
The book spirals towards an inexorable end; a downhill ride on a mountain bike with no brakes. And if you read it at 2 a.m., as I did, then it gets to be a little creepy besides.
Altogether I found the book to be slight, although now as I’m recalling it, I can recall with perfect clarity the characters and their names and situations, a surefire sign that I’ve invested in the story at least somewhat.
Although I have only read two of Tremblay’s novels, what strikes me is how he tells the stories from a female character’s point of view, and creates real people with plausible inner lives. Woman who generate empathy despite their flaws and shortcomings.
More evidence that I found this book compelling: I read it in the course of a day. Although to be fair, I need a break from The Selfish Gene, and sometimes after a long hard slog of reading non-fiction, fiction tastes just like candy. It’s just not what I expected.