Color me surprised. You'd think I would have learned by now in my reading habits not to pre-judge a book too much by the cover and back blurb. Apparently this is another one where the publisher (or whoever wrote the back blurb) kind of lied. The story doesn't go like it says it does. The description marks it in the mind as a semi-fun, ultra cheesy experience; instead it's surprisingly intricate in some of its areas and goes down a completely different route.
True, they are at a reunion. True, they are going to the cemetery. This is where it changes -- being in the middle of a hurricane they ignored, not believing it would hit inland and stressed with the reunion and everything going on - and are forced to seek shelter at a lit-up house on the road. There they walk into the scene of a violent murder. Unable to bear staying in the house where such crime was committed, they again venture outside into the storm, only to find it's much worse, their car is washed away, and they are stranded again. Sure a little unrealistic but with the way it's written, but not hokey actually reading it.
The writer impressed me with wording style. ";" may not have been used correctly ALL the time, and O'Brien clearly loves that punctuation mark, but his writing was suited for serious, suspenseful novels. He has a knack for keeping the pace flowing even when doing the introspective stuff, and for getting the picture out crystal clear without having to take long or rely on much wording. Impressive.
Instead of a cheese horror fest, it's more akin to a murder mansion mystery novel. The group dynamics of the seven played in strongly. They have their individual secrets, revealed in time, and there are hidden feelings/relationships lurking under the surface for many of them. Surprisingly most can't really remember the night of Raymond's death, but this is explained as well. Instead of just a group of people forced together in this situation to be sliced off one by one, there are several different intriguing stories going on at once.
The horror comes into play as there are some short scenes that are actually creepy and well written. Gore is not nauseating, but it coats the pages when it needs to. If you are turned off by brutality this book won't bother you in that regard. If you enjoy that kind of thing, there's a small enough here to keep you satisfied. Overall it ties into the story as it should - quick scenes to serve the purpose of keeping the suspense tight and the mystery elusive.
I will say the last chapter or so fell a bit short and was the weakest form of the novel, but overall it's a good read for this creepy, Fall season. More cheese and traditional horror stuff comes across at the end, but this one is a good blend of suspense, mystery, and creepy tale to keep things interesting. It's an older book so you may not find it laying around (I've had it on the TBR pile a few years), but if you do stumble across it, definitely worth a read.
Also read and reviewed for these events: