Saturday, October 9, 2010

Book Review: Neverland by Douglas Clegg

✰✰✰✰½ Terror smolders beneath the surface of this Southern Gothic horror tale. It's late summertime, and the Jackson clan is heading out on vacation like thousands of other families. Ten year old Beau Jackson narrates the tale of the family's last annual trip to his grandmother's ancestral home, known as The Retreat, on Gull Island, Georgia. Upon their arrival, Beau discovers that his cousin Sumter has already staked a claim on the abandoned and "off-limits" shack out back. Sumter transforms the shack into a clubhouse and claims that a god named Lucy lives there and must be worshipped.

As the days pass, Sumter conjures up his own world called Neverland where he gradually and craftily leads the other children astray. As Sumter's dark sanctuary grows, Beau and his twin sisters are sucked into the evil abyss with acts of stealing, animal sacrifices, and other gruesome rituals. Beau and his sisters go along with Sumter's demands for a time. However, the innocent Beau faces a turning point when he must learn to differentiate between what is real and what is imagined in the supernatural world of Neverland.

Before the end, a sinister family secret will be revealed. As the horror escalates, readers won't be able to put this one down. The last 100 pages send you speeding toward a collision course with a stunning and horrifying conclusion.

The Bottom Line:
Originally published in 1991, Neverland is a fantastic coming-of-age story that's hard to put down. This twisted tale of horror is guaranteed to send chills up your spine. It's Southern Gothic horror at it's best and sure to be a classic. The characters are authentic and the imagery will evoke childhood memories of past vacation nightmares. The dark and eerie illustrations by Glenn Chadbourne along with the ragged edged pages of the book heighten the gothic spookiness of the tale. This book is highly recommended for adult fans of horror. Some readers, however, might be troubled by the depictions of animal sacrifices.

Neverland by Douglas Clegg. Illustrated by Glenn Chadbourne. Paperback published by Vanguard Press in 2010. 304 p. ISBN: 978-1-593155414

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