by Larry Rodness
Kindle Edition, 230 pg.
Deer Hawk Publications, 2015
Read: December 13, 2016
Alexander Malefant is a traveling life insurance agent who comes into a small town on October 31st. He witnesses a few events in a local county festival — pie competitions, largest pumpkin contest, apple bobbing, and so on — an exercise in small-=town civic pride and rivalry. The first person he meets in town intrigues him, especially when she’s accused of being a witch by a kid.
It’s not like he took it seriously, it just struck him as odd. Not long after that, he sees an apple-bobbing child being held under the water by something/someone that no one can see. The “witch” rescues him (no spells involved), and issues a warning about something happening in town. She’s promptly ignored by everyone and the festivities resume, as does Alexander’s sales day.
Once evening comes, a sales visit ends strangely when the family’s children go missing. It doesn’t take long to discover that other children are missing — not just a few, but every child (including teenagers). Alex (like everyone in town), gets wrapped up in the search. He’s also a suspect in the disappearances (like many people — especially the strangers).
To the reader, it’s pretty clear that no one is going to find a mundane explanation for the disappearance — it takes the people going through it longer. Which makes sense.
This is well-told, well-paced with a strong voice. Rodness took a bunch of long-standing ideas and combined then in an effective, creepy and entertaining way. The characters were well drawn, and I regretted not getting to spend more time with some of them. I wanted a couple of more chapters at the end (not that we were cheated in the ending, I just wanted a bit more following it). All in all, a fun read.
Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for my honest opinion about it. Note that the word is “honest,” not “timely” — I should have read this months ago, sorry, Mr. Rodness.