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Ace’s life is satisfying in an ordinary sort of way. At twenty-five he’s deeply in love with his wife of two years, and he and Runa are expecting their first child. But when Ace’s mother-in-law passes away after a short illness, things take a turn for the weird.
Everyone in the family knows that Gretchen dabbled in the occult prior to her death, inviting friends over for occasional tarot card readings and séances. What most of them don’t know is that she spent a considerable amount of time training her grandchildren in the art of the uncanny. Now Brinn and Oliver appear to be experimenting with strange rituals—rituals linked to increasingly disturbing events.
To get a handle on what’s happening, Ace and Runa begin investigating Gretchen’s explorations into the supernatural. But it will take time, and a shocking series of developments, for them to discover how high the stakes are for their growing family.
With a sense of dread permeating its pages Sleep in the Dust of the Earth proves a genuine nail biter from the start and a delight to read with Hains again marshalling his typically quirky take on the supernatural menace. Succinctly written and comfortably falling into novella territory he always demonstrates a knack for maintaining the spectre of jeopardy, even when nothing terrifying is happening and once again he is on form with Ace, Runa and Adele trying to make sense of escalating events. His previous releases have introduced us to many superb characters but this time around Brinn and Oliver might well have topped them all with each of their appearances making us feel like something ominous could be unleashed at any moment! Calling to mind the work of Stephen King it certainly hits all the necessary notes for an occult story, even down to its eerie picture perfect setting and yet it’s spine-tingling moments are wholly contemporary. Take away the inescapable threat of something dark and satanic and perhaps Brinn and Oliver are an allegory for bad parenting in a world gone wrong?
Another highly satisfying release from Hains, Sleep in the Dust of the Earth is recommended without reservation.
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Anthony Hains is a professor emeritus of counseling psychology with a specialization in pediatric psychology. He retired in May 2018 after 31 years at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Anthony lives with his wife in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin. They have one daughter.