Verdict: A crisply written, creepy novel about unnatural disasters, THE SCHOHARIE offers up shocking twists and terrifying scenes that will satisfy any horror fan.
As a Dedication at the beginning of this horror novel states, THE SCHOHARIE is based on true events – the 1987 collapse of a bridge on the I-90 Thruway in rural New York, as a result of unprecedented flooding of the Schoharie Creek. Author Diane M. Johnson has taken that event and transformed it into a haunting horror novel, populated with believable characters and an eerie atmosphere, complete with near-constant rain.
From the book’s earliest pages, the residents of Lost Valley, New York grapple with ghosts and magic, but the heart of the story is the human drama taking place in the sometimes claustrophobic small town. Rivalries, love triangles, resentments, and prejudice are the real menace at work here. The presence of a mysterious ghostly figure and questionable deaths only serve to heighten the tension.
The reader must second-guess which visions and fears endured by the characters are old-timer suspicions or manifestations of mental illness, and which represent actual hauntings or sorcery. Throughout its pages, this story features intense violence and sickness experienced by both people and animals, including car crashes, drownings, gunshots, dismemberment and an aggressive strain of flu. The brutality is handled starkly and straightforwardly, and the disasters can be shocking and upsetting.
THE SCHOHARIE is crisply written, with a momentum that builds as the bridge collapse and flooding threaten the lives and sanity of the main characters. The main figure, Aaron, is particularly complex, yet sympathetic. The author describes his inner life with empathy as he confronts his past and his personal demons, while working out the puzzle of the horrors that have gripped his hometown. He is not perfect, but the reader naturally roots for him to succeed.
The confusion in the small town rises to a satisfying crescendo in the latter half of the book, and the cast of characters all react in their own ways – some bravely and some less so. The final chapters offer a solid resolution for most of the characters, albeit with an ominous tone, maintaining the overall feeling of dread until the final sentences.
A creepy novel about unnatural disasters, THE SCHOHARIE offers up shocking twists and terrifying scenes that will satisfy any horror fan.
~Jennifer Dixonfor IndieReader