Synopsis: An atmospheric, chilling page turner from rising star Martin Stewart, reminiscent of Stand by Me and Stranger Things. Sep, Arkle, Mack, Lamb and Hadley: five friends thrown together one hot, sultry summer. When they discover an ancient stone box hidden in the forest, they decide to each make a sacrifice: something special to them, committed to the box for ever. And they make a pact: they will never return to the box at night; they’ll never visit it alone; and they’ll never take back their offerings. Four years later, a series of strange and terrifying events take place. Someone broke the rules, and now everyone has to pay. But how much are they willing to sacrifice?
One of the great things I loved about this book was the setting. It’s set in 1986 and the lead characters are just 1 year older than me at the time. It brings about such great memories of bad hair, outlandish dress sense and some fabulous music. I’d give it all the stars just for setting alone.
Four years previously the gang, after a wonderful summer each made a sacrifice to a stone box they find in the woods (do these things ever end well??). As you can imagine this comes back to haunt them as, now estranged as friends, one of them opens the box in a fit of loneliness wanting to get the gang back together. It has disastrous consequences.
Turns out back during WW2 another set of youths did the same thing. Opening up the box in 1986 sets the monstrous sacrifices free to murder.
As mentioned, I loved the setting of 1986. I also liked it being set on a small island (Arran possibly based on the blurb at the back). So often thrillers are based in big cities but I felt the smaller setting worked to increase the sense of fear and horror and make the book even more tense.
The bulk of the book is set over just a few days so the pace is fast, it’s a real page turner.
I loved all the little headings, I loved the characters. The main 5 all reminded me of 80’s films – your Stand By Me’s and your Goonie’s and again it harks back to my own school days. I could probably give each of the characters names from my own childhood. So for me very relatable.
It’s dark, it’s edgy, there’s horror and humour. Basically it has everything. Did I mention I loved it??
Free arc from netgalley