In Blackwater Val, something isn’t quite right.
Richard Franklin has left his Midwestern roots behind to live on the coast of Maine with his family. But in the autumn of the year 2000, he must return to his Illinois birthplace on a sorrowful journey. His wife Michelle has been killed in New England by a hit-and-run driver who is never found, so back home he comes with her cremated remains, to fulfill a final wish and on her birthday scatter her ashes in the park along the river in Blackwater Valley—simply Blackwater Val to locals—the small town where they both grew up and fell in love.
With him he brings his six-year-old daughter, Katie, who still grieves for her lost mother: Katie, who can sometimes guess who’s going on the phone before it rings. Who can stop all the clocks in the house, and break up clouds in the sky with her mind, and heal sicknesses, and who sometimes sees things that aren’t there . . . people who are no longer alive. All gifts she inherited from her mother.
Only something isn’t quite right in the Val.
Sinkholes are opening up, revealing the plague pits the sleepy hamlet built over in the 1830s, when malaria and cholera outbreaks ran riot. Mysterious bird and fish die-offs begin to occur, and Katie can see ghosts of the dead gathering all around. But what she can’t see is the charred, centuries-old malevolence which has been waiting for her, and wants her for its very own. Or the pale Sallow Man who haunts the town’s nighttime streets . . . or the river witch—another Blackwater Val, of sorts—each of whom will be drawn one by one into the nightmarish bloodletting about to take place. – Goodreads
Blackwater Val Review
Blackwater Val is a small town where something has gone horribly wrong. In the tradition of Stephen King, William Gorman gives us a book that’s all about an almost unimaginable evil. The characters of Blackwater Val are ones you easily like or happily dislike. . They’re not fully fleshed out, and they’re definitely stereotypes, but he writes them in such a way that you don’t care.Even though the violence starts almost immediately, the book has a ‘slow burn’ feel to it. The author has a habit of giving you scenes that propel the plot, and peppering in scenes of violence. I actually liked this. I’d be getting a bit antsy within a certain chapter, and suddenly someone gets gutted. Makes a horror hound happy, it does.
There are lots of deaths, violence, and mayhem that delight the casual reader in Blackwater Val. However, there’s more than a few reasons why you may want to carefully consider who you recommend it to. This book, whilst not stuffed with it, does have quite a few scenes of disturbing imagery. Most of the truly disturbing imagery revolves around dead children. There are two baby deaths that happen (though they’re not described in detail). There’s also a few scenes with an aborted fetus. If you’ve ever had a loved one cremated, there’s a scene where they talk about cremation that will bother you. Even now I have to force my thoughts away from it.
Gorman spends about half the book building things up. This makes it so he can gleefully engage in an epic battle of good versus evil at the end. If you’re someone (like me) who likes to get right into the thick of things, the first half will be a bit of a bear. I found myself walking away from it to go do something else a few times. However, finally all the threads are in place, and I got hooked. From there on, I didn’t want to put Blackwater Val down.
Overall, Blackwater Val is a solid read from a talented author. It disturbed me, creeped me out, and made me think. While it’s not the type of book I willingly pick up because I don’t like slow-burns, I still enjoyed it. I’d recommend it to fans of Stephen King and William Peter Blatty.
Blackwater Val is available on Amazon.