Stewartville is a “vortex of weird”. It is a place where urban legends overlap with the very real fear that comes from the town’s isolation and the fact that there are prisons nearby. Blaring sirens indicating a prisoner is on the loose overshadow people’s daily lives. It seems like everyone in town is headed towards those prisons. They’ll either work there or be sent there. That is, perhaps, the closest one will get to the real truth of the town.
Or is it? When a group of teens dare to visit the site where several children died, one spots muddy fingerprints on the back of the car, and yet the road had been empty. Then a strange car follows them and fear sets in.
Two of the boys also find a tunnel connected to a basement. Their easy friendship starts to sour as Denny’s obsession with the tunnel grows. His mom has changed since their move to Stewartville, and tensions are rising in his home.
His friend is being raised by his brother—their mom is locked up —is surrounded by people who aren’t acting normally. His brother fixates on keeping him straight and clean so that he can make something of his life, but that same brother now seems to be using drugs. The house is messier, the food supplies dwindle.
Then people snap. One shocking murder is only the beginning. Is it the ley lines? The tunnels? Something crawling out from beneath the town to wreak vengeance for prior wrongs?
Author Shannon Felton does a great job of creating and building tension throughout this story. She provides just enough info to keep you guessing about what’s really going on, and then still manages to pull the rug out from under your feet with unexpected developments. The town feels all too real, with a lot of people lacking direction and succumbing to their unwelcome fate. There’s a hopelessness that permeates every page, and has you feeling like the characters are under constant pressure to surrender to the pull of the prisons. Whether the curse is real, whether some other evil force is at work, is for you to decide.
Sandra Ruttan ©2020