Jack Thatch first met Stella as a child, a cryptic little girl sitting alone on a bench in the cemetery clutching her favorite book. He finds her again exactly one year later, sitting upon the same bench, only to disappear again soon after.
Every year, on 9th August, the body is found, flesh horribly burned, yet the clothing completely untouched.
Isolated and locked away from the world in a shadowy lab, a little boy known only as Subject “D” waits, grows, learns. He’s permitted to speak to no one. He has never known the touch of another. Harboring a power so horrific, those in control will never allow him beyond their walls.
All of them linked in ways unimaginable
SHE HAS A BROKEN THING WHERE HER HEART SHOULD BE.
J D BARKER
I was drawn to this novel for a couple of reasons. One, because I had read and loved the Fourth Monkey series by Barker and, secondly, because I immediately picked up a King/Koontz vibe from the synopsis. These two things practically ensured this would become one of my favourite books.
Upon beginning the book, I pretty soon realised that the story was very loosely worked around a classic novel. I won’t say which one because it’s a great moment when the penny drops. Needless to say, what Barker has done lifts it into another realm and dimension.
Don’t be put off by size of this book. The first third or so is packed with introducing the characters, some very flawed, and how they interact together. It’s a very immersive read laced with the inevitability of horror just around the corner. It’s a slow build, in one sense, but never boring – everything comes back later with massive relevance. I was surprised more than once at how events crept up on me and I thought, “Of course, I should have seen that coming.” But you won’t.
The middle section is a bit on the pedestrian side but when everything starts coming together for the explosive final denouement you’ll be glad you stuck around.
A small criticism relates to the villains of the piece. The structure and reasoning behind the set-up is impeccable but the portrayal of the ‘foot soldiers’ strained my credulity a little. It didn’t detract from the story but did cause a slight stutter.
I read this on a free download from Kindle Unlimited but have now ordered a hard copy, because I will read it again one day – after I have read the classic that inspired it. I’m sure I will see it with new eyes and enjoy it even more