Echoes in the Graveyard weaves a fictional tale of death and renewal that takes place over one town’s homecoming weekend. It’s a wild ride with many chills along the way.
Something isn’t right in the small college town of West Berlin, Maine. Ethan’s mother is missing, and the townspeople believe she’s dead. A controversial advocate of assisted suicide may know more about this than he’s letting on. A dog is attacked by wolves and Ethan comes to its rescue, attracting the attention of three young women. And there’s a Windigo, a hungry, malevolent spirit, infusing various townspeople with blood lust. Add surprising revelations of paternity and maternity, a wake with no body and a homecoming dance – phew!
When it’s good, Echoes is very good. Some scenes are truly gripping, and others are in good fun but still grab on tight. “The rumors of past wolf attacks were not documented, but in the dark woods, fear was fact,” author S.J. Calhoun writes, building suspense in the setting where Ethan rescues the dog. The writing is clear and effective, and town history threaded through the narrative brings West Berlin to life.
The problem is in the book’s length. Calhoun has written a 600-page thriller in 87 pages. If the material were allowed to breathe, the book would be a can’t-put-it-down page-turner. As it is, it’s often hard to separate the tangled plotlines. Who got stuck with a syringe? Was he a good guy or a bad guy? Is he possessed by the Windigo? It seems counterintuitive, but more pages would make it much easier to navigate the dense layers of plot and spare us the hasty epilogue tying together loose ends.
Calhoun shows strong potential as an author, and readers who like scary stories originating in Maine may enjoy this one, but it’s a midnight snack. It would be much tastier as a several-course meal.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.