A refreshing horror story that introduces the idea of an expanding cemetery.
Caleb can see an old graveyard from his bedroom window and it seems to grow bigger every day. Even though funerals take place there every night, no one in their town is dying. As Caleb takes it upon himself to measure the graveyard, he meets Misha, a strange girl that lives in the graveyard with her grandfather. The two form a peculiar relationship and Caleb, still reeling from the death of his mother, is dragged into a world of secrets, shadow and death. Once he’s in, will he be able to get out?
The plot is great and well developed. It’s original and explores the character’s in detail making them the central piece of the story. The pace is very slow and repetitive in the beginning but as you reach the middle, it changes at a fast pace. You just need to know what happens next. There are predictable twists to the story but other revelations are quite surprising and unexpected. However, I found that some questions were left unanswered when it comes to the graveyard secrets. I felt the author wanted to keep some mystery in the story but it was a bit too much. If more details were revealed, I would have connected more with the story and feel satisfied knowing the whole picture.
The style of writing is simple, easy to understand and follow. Steve Conoboy takes a leap into a new and dark world, using a descriptive and gothic style that pulled me in from the very beginning. IT gets a bit confusing at times when the author voices Caleb’s thoughts, he does it very well, but it did get a bit confusing at times. Even so, the way Conoboy writes reflects the main character perfectly and digs deep into the mind of this 12-year boy.
The main characters are well developed and explored. The main male character Caleb is completely alone after losing his mother. The relationship with his father implodes as he blames Caleb for the death of his wife and belittles him at every chance he gets. Even with the presence of his grandfather, Caleb tries to deal in his own way with the disintegration of his family. In the end, Caleb ends up losing both of his parents. Caleb’s sad story brings out compassion and empathy and you really feel for him throughout the novel. His development throughout the story is very well described; he starts as a scared boy, timid and lonely to a brave young man that is able to put others before himself. It’s very rewarding to see Caleb discover a reason to exist, to live and even if it’s dark, he uses it to move forward and to grow.
Misha, the main female character is also a crucial part of the puzzle. Even though she is a bit strange, Misha lives a hard life also. She lives with a grandfather, an overbearing man that controls her life at every turn. Whenever her parents are dead or alive is left unknown. She’s tormented by a bully called Vic and, much like Caleb, she feels alone in the world. Their friendship develops slowly throughout the plot and I enjoyed reading/seeing its growth. They support each other and more than that, they become a part of each other’s’ lives.
Another thing they have in common is the grandfather figure. Caleb ‘s grandfather is the opposite of Misha’s. He’s a strong male character that truly cares of the well-being of his grandson and does his best to protect him from the graveyard.
In general, a refreshing plot with interesting and peculiar characters. I recommend this book to fans of middle-grade horror stories.
Thank you NetGalley, Lodestone Books and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.