I first heard of Paul Tremblay when his novel A Head Full of Ghosts was nominated for the Horror Writers Association’s Bram Stoker Award. I immediately took a liking to his style and pacing. With his latest offering, Disappearance at Devil’s Rock, I saw a lot of what I really enjoyed about the former book used in different ways.
Disappearance at Devil’s Rock has a relatively simple yet horrible plot; the disappearance of a teenage boy and that event's toll on his family and friends. We live in a day and age where such events in real life are too commonplace, my phone wouldn’t blow up with Amber alert notifications if they weren't. We only get the the benchmarks that the media can provide for us, when the child is missing and then (hopefully) the resolution. Tremblay takes the reader through the long, excruciating path of frustration, fear, and uncertainty that the family and friends go through, leading deeper and deeper into an intricate tension that doesn’t even take into account the supernatural elements. This is where I really started loving the book a lot.
Disappearance at Devil’s Rock bears a similarity of story mechanics to A Head Full of Ghosts in that both leave the reader to wonder if there is actually a supernatural element to the story at all. Horrible things happen in both stories, but what actually is the reader shown (Tremblay is a master of “Show, don’t tell” by the way.) that leads you to believe that the horror is supernatural in essence rather than mundane? The answer to this is not certain, simply because Tremblay knows how to sell the uncertainty. It weaves itself throughout the evolution of the story to where you could attempt to take the most cynical route to an answer with plenty to form a strong foundation of evidence on, but the weirdness of particular moments and how they work themselves into the mundane are so bonded into the story that you cannot just explain it away without a challenge. Even at the ending you do not know for sure, and that is worth the price of admission right there.
Disappearance at Devil’s Rock is available for purchase here.