What Grows in the Dark

This horror debut brings the thrills and emotional complexity that crown the tradition. Jaq Evans's What Grows in the Dark includes all the elements that appeal to readers of the darkest genre--plus a few bonus extras. The small town with big secrets is satisfyingly ominous. The strange and increasingly creepy events quickly ratchet up the tension. The characters struggle against each other and, of course, themselves. It all adds up to a moving, fast-paced story with a conclusion that resonates.

Brigit is a professional liar, invoking the name of her dead sister to fake communing with spirits as a paranormal investigator. When strange events start occurring once more in her hometown, she and her cameraman, Ian, are called back to investigate. They have the chance to make a chunk of cash, and Ian sees an opportunity to learn more about his close-mouthed friend and her troubled past. But once they arrive, the situation quickly spirals as it becomes clear there's no need for them to manufacture the paranormal. Whatever haunts Brigit is real--and somehow connected to her sister's death.

Amid the impeccably executed body horror and haunting imagery, the story also manages subtle emotional dynamics between multifaceted characters. Both Ian and Bridget carry trauma and struggle with negative self-images. A central energy in the story is the ways they try and fail to connect, an engaging narrative thread that is fully developed from start to finish. This dynamic benefits from the novel's dual perspectives.

For fans of thoughtful horror featuring tangled, realistic characters, What Grows in the Dark is an exciting addition to the canon. --Carol Caley, writer

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