Something old and deadly has awoken.
When two teenagers go missing from the small, rural town of Sallow Bend, the residents come together to search for them. Little do they suspect that finding the wayward girls will be the start of their problems. An old evil is rising, and only one man seems to realize that everyone is in danger and this is not the first time it’s happened. With the carnival in town, people want to have a good time, but for many, this will be the worst time of their lives.
I was keen to read Bram Stoker preliminary ballot folk horror novel by UK/Australian author Alan Baxter. It definitely delivered.
The protagonist of the novel is Caleb, school janitor who keeps himself isolated from people because of a unique talent to see through deceptions. An isolated lifestyle suits him fine. Everything seems to go well in the sleepy, backwater town of Sallow Bend. Everything until two girls go missing and the carnival arrives in town for the week.
When one the carnival workers joins the search party and unexpectedly finds the two girls in death-like sleep inside a cabin deep within the woods, he can’t shake the feeling something is very wrong. The girls awaken and – apparently unharmed- are taken back to their families at Sallow Bend township along with a third girl Hester, who the town remember also went missing, has always lived here. Things begin to unravel for Caleb when he has no memory of Hester or ever seeing her before.
It isn’t before long that men begin to die in strange and horrific circumstances and each time, Caleb has seen them moving after Hester like a marionette. Rumours that series of deaths have occurred before and go away in their own time don’t reassure Caleb.
Once Hester realises Caleb sees through her glamour to the shifting form within the body of a young girl, he knows she’ll come for him. He teams up with an unlikely grief-stricken mother fleeing her domestically abusive husband. Together, Caleb and Tricia devise a plan to stop the killings and put an end to Hester Black for good.
Sallow Bend is a well-written and fast-paced read. The characters are genuine and unique and the township itself recalls strongly the folk horror foundations of a haunted cabin in the woods near a sleepy town. Baxter has written a high quality work that keeps you reading well past midnight.
A highly recommended read for fans of folk horror, psychological horror and ghost stories. Magnificently drawn together for an addictive read!
You must log in to post a comment.