Winner Of The 2018 Millennium Book Award
HENRY: A Polish Swimmer's True Story of Friendship from Auschwitz to America
by Karina Shawver
They can’t believe what they see. Nobody can!
Ashley Smith attends Crow Creek Elementary and is the brightest student in Earle Pruitt’s fourth grade class. She volunteers as line leader, captains the book club, wins the spelling bee, and never misses a day of school. Not in almost five years. Not until Schreck, the impish gravedigger at Holt County Cemetery, snatches her from her bus stop one spring morning.
Shortly after Sheriff Brad Gleason organizes a search party, horror strikes from the nearby woods, claiming the lives of several locals. Mrs. Scott, who runs the town’s sawmill, witnesses the attack. So does Curly, a gullible deputy. They can’t believe what they see. Nobody can. The impending chase leads to Queensboro, an insidious town along the Haw River and home to Carolina EnTech, a medical research laboratory run by Margaret Ganis, whose prominent birthmark and ruthless fear tactics earn her the cryptic nickname the Red Queen in the local press.
Disturbing and suspenseful from the very start, Queensboro is the follow up release to Crow Creek by Thomas Drago who does well to distinguish his writing from the surfeit of horror fiction currently doing the rounds. Drago is one of those writers who ably avoids the onus of trite cliché to deliver refreshingly original plots which benefit from cleverly nuanced characterisation. There’s a certain benevolence and darkness to his characters which make them highly memorable, pitting his protagonists against our most primitive fears and superstitions to create an addictive convention of supernatural menace, but what makes his books really stand out is his penchant for social commentary. It’s subtle, but laced throughout his narrative and here he raises the spectre of corruption, racial discrimination and police brutality. It works well within the confines of his plot and helps ground it in the realm of plausibility to keep readers on edge.
Often disquieting, always enthralling, Queensboro is a consummately told and highly original story that proves a powerful follow up release to Crow Creek and one likely to afford Thomas Drago the recognition he deserves. It is recommended without reservation.
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