Paul Tremblay’s latest novel, “Disappearance at Devil’s Rock,” rings true with elements of a boy’s adventure tale mixed with a crime mystery that takes one devilish turn after another. Gradually, the heat is turned up and, like any good work of horror, you get hooked. Taking a different approach from Tremblay’s 2015 novel, “A Head Full of Ghosts,” this new novel does not go in spooky right away.
This is a tale of a boy gone missing. Tommy is a well-liked teenager, with swagger and good looks, but he normally keeps a low profile. He has two best friends in all the world, Josh and Luis, and he treats them rather shabbily. Boys will be boys. What becomes apparent is that Tommy is a complicated kid. There is something strange and sad about him.
The dynamic between the three boys shifts when Arnold, a young man of indeterminate age, ingratiates himself into the trio. Arnold reveals he has psychic powers. This leads Tommy to open up about his struggle with dealing with his father’s death. Luis senses something not quite right about Arnold. Our story begins with the disappearance of Tommy at Split Rock, known to the locals as “Devil’s Rock.” From there, the narrative alternates between the search for Tommy and moments in the past that indicate Tommy was not as strong as he thought and quite vulnerable to the Devil’s charms.
Favoring an enigmatic route, Tremblay invests a good amount of time in developing the characters closest to Tommy like his mother and sister. Some of the strongest scenes involve them trying to make sense of what’s happened. It’s like the foreboding flashbacks belong to the males and the present problem-solving belongs to the females. In both cases, the Devil is not far behind. As is made clear in a folktale that Arnold recites, the Devil has a funny way of making his presence known. You will sense him but not exactly see him, only for a glimmer in the corner of your eye.
“Disappearance at Devil’s Rock,” is a 336-page hardcover published by William Morrow, an imprint of Harper Collins and available as of June 21st. For more details, visit Harper Collins right here.