By Douglas Clegg
Background: First published in 1991, this creepy book was one of Clegg’s earlier published works. I, for one, am looking forward to checking out all of Clegg’s other work after speeding through this one.
What it’s about: A family summer vacation on a peninsula off the Georgia coast turns deadly when a young boy, Beau, starts hanging out with his cousin, Sumpter. See, his cousin likes to play in this creepy, rundown shack he calls Neverland, and there he keeps a crate with something mysterious inside.
Sumpter gets Beau and his older sisters to join in on his “games,” which involve praying to the terrible, merciless god, Lucy, who demands that they steal, write swear words on the walls, and give blood sacrifices. Inside of Neverland is a nightmarish world where the children hallucinate and feed on each other’s blood.
Meanwhile, the adults pay little attention to the children, as they are too busy having their own drunken arguments and dysfunction. But Grammy Weenie, who is old and severe and confined to a wheelchair, reveals to Beau that there is something not quite right about the shack, and that he should stay away from his cousin Sumpter… that he should not “let it out to play.”
The dark and brutal history of Neverland unravels as ghosts are dredged up from watery graves and Sumpter turns on Beau in order to get his final sacrifice, which will raise Lucy and the other god, the dark god: The Devourer of All.
Why it will keep you up at night: Clegg’s narrative is captivating; you are instantly transported to this old-fashioned Southern world where the kids run around barefoot in the swamp and the carnival sits half-dead with the rusting husks of out-of-service rides. Slowly, insidiously, the creepiness begins, and by the time you get to the climax you are going head-to-head with all manner of supernatural grotesqueries.
Both the descriptions and the characters pull you into this story, which is ultimately about childhood and the loss of innocence. Though the narrator is a child, this is not a book for children. Definitely not a novel to pass up.
Watch the book trailer here: