Saturday, November 23, 2019

Snake Oil

LOST GIRL OF THE LAKE by Joe McKinney and Michael McCarty is a supernatural coming of age story told from the POV of a grown man looking back on a boyhood memory of one particular summer. While filled with suspense, I wouldn't label the story as horror, and I am disappointed with how much backstory is left out.

Up to this point, I have enjoyed everything published by Grinning Skull Press, and Joe McKinney is one of my favorite authors, but I've never heard of Michael McCarty. Even so, I'm not going to blame McCarty for my disappointment in this story. I haven't been this dissatisfied with a story since I read The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King.

I'm reminded of a college professor who told me, "Don't put a gun in your story, unless you're planning to use it before the end." There are many guns in this story which never go off with a bang. The dark history of Mark's family is established, but readers are not given any detailed reasons why the older generations appeared to be involved with a snake specific backstories with Abraham and Ulysses Gaitlin, aside from a brief mention of their falling out.

Another character, Ben, makes a big deal about how dangerous the abandoned village of Gaitlinville is, but, again, he doesn't venture into the history of the church, much less the history of the land/lake. Mark's dad attempts to tell the teenager something from the past, more than once, but remains vague. After a while, limiting the story to Mark's POV appears to do more harm than good. Basically, Mark's character, as an elderly man reflecting on a turning point in his life, sucks at storytelling.

Out of curiosity, I read the other reviews posted on Amazon, and the ones praising this book appear to have read a completely different story than the one I read. If you're expecting this to be anything like GSP's other horror stories, you will be disappointed by the lack of depth and action.

As always,

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