By: Christian Galacar
Two years after losing their infant son to a tragic accident, Peter Martell, a novelist with a peculiar knack for finding lost things, and his wife, Sylvia, are devastated to learn they may no longer be able to have children. In need of a fresh start, and compelled by strange dreams, the couple decide to rent a lake house in the idyllic town of Gilchrist, Massachusetts, a place where bad things might just happen for a reason. As bizarre events begin to unfold around them—a chance encounter with a gifted six-year-old boy, a series of violent deaths, and repeated sightings of a strange creature with a terrifying nature—Peter and Sylvia find themselves drawn into the chaos and soon discover that coming to Gilchrist may not have been their decision at all.
I would like to begin by making a convenient little list of all the ways in which this book reminds me of Stephen King:
- Gifted child with the ability to see things others can’t
- An evil that feeds on the fear & misery of a town
- Creatures are interdimensional beings
- Boy controlled by the evil that makes him into a serial killer
- East coast setting
- Third person with many characters
- Characters are traumatized at the end (not so happy ending)
Plus many other countless small things. Galacar’s voice is different but close enough to King that I would recommend this story to any King fan.
Additionally, I would recommend Gilchrist to anyone who is a fan of the John Carpenter film “In the Mouth of Madness” as there is an author whose story also kind of comes to life.
It’s well paced for a 500-page novel and the writing is very descriptive. It’s more suspenseful and unsettling than scary with just enough gore to keep the reader on edge. Several moments made me cringe from sympathy pain. The story in general isn’t a happy one, and I don’t want to spoil anything about the end…but let’s just say the good guys have a hollow victory. One could argue it wasn’t much of a victory at all. But I didn’t find the ending hopeless, it was just a true horror novel. I appreciate that Galacar didn’t try to cheapen the ending by just having the bad guys “fight the good fight.” That’s not how things work sometimes, and I admired that the conclusion was complete and didn’t leave room for a sequel.
The main story takes place over the course of about a week during the summer of 1966 in the fictional town of Gilchrist, Massachusetts. The book description implies that Peter and Sylvia are the main characters but much of the story isn’t from either of their perspectives. We get to learn about various members of the town and each had a distinct personality that made them feel like real people.
The main mystery starts with random individuals becoming possessed after seeing the apparition of a loved one. I would argue the possessions worked only because this was a small town setting which made them more impactful. We encounter this relatively small cast of characters that all have personal connections to one another and it’s hard when, for example, a husband attacks his wife and then lights himself on fire out of desperation to stop his violent actions. Galacar did a great job of making likable characters feel like innocent bystanders and the villains feel like real life serial killers.
I definitely plan to read from this author again in the hopes that his other novels would be as good as this one. Not sure if this is his only horror novel, but I hope it’s not his last.
Overall rating: 4