Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Lost Boy Lost Girl by Peter Straub
WINNER Bram Stoker Award
PLOT Late one night Mark Underhill discovers his mother sitting on the edge of the bathtub, staring forward with empty eyes, "an expression of dazed incomprehension" on her face. A week later she commits suicide. The week after that Mark disappears - just like three other boys from Millhaven.
Mark had never noticed the empty house across the alley, never really looked at it, but once he does, his obsession steadily grows as his mother becomes increasingly exhausted and distracted. It's Mark who discovers her body and becomes convinced that the house had something to do with her death. The house is one the book's main characters as it entangles Mark in its dark history. Writer Tim Underhill, the boy's uncle, returns to Millhaven to help in the search for his nephew. Uncovering a serial killer in the present, he also finds a bloody past and the story of a girl who drew Mark into her world.
COMMENT Lost Boy Lost Girl shifts between past and present and among points of view. Although initially confusing, this constant shifting blended horrors present and past while blurring the fine line between reality and apparition. I had a difficult time getting into the book, but eventually settled into its hypnotic cadence. I must say this is like no other book I've ever read, and by the end - the hopeful, surreal end - the house had grabbed me too.