Haven by Tom Deady
Greymore Publications, 2017
Available: Paperback, Kindle edition
With the release of Haven, it is clear that Tom Deady is ready to make his mark in the horror world. While “coming home” and “coming-of-age” stories have been done masterfully before in books like Dan Simmons’ Summer of Night, Robert McCammon’s Boy’s Life, and the monumental IT, Haven is a fresh take on the trope. With characters who stand out and plot twists that push comparisons to the side, the pages fly by. Deady weaves a story of mystery and horror that will leave readers not just frightened, but feeling a powerful emotional impact.
Paul Greymore has been locked away in prison for 17 years, serving a sentence for being a child murderer, despite evidence to the contrary. Disfigured in childhood, and already an outcast when the murders occurred, he was blamed for the deaths as he emerged from a lake with a wounded girl. With his imprisonment, the killings stopped. The town of Haven has not been a “safe haven” for him.
Paul’s main ally, the local priest, believes it best for Paul to return home and start anew, yet the killings begin again just as he arrives. Sheriff Crawford, the cop who put Paul away despite the evidence, is still hellbent on putting him back behind bars. Along with his friend Billy and young Denny, the damaged crew set out to solve the mystery of who, or what, is actually killing the children. More than any monstrous outside force, though, Haven explores the the darkness within the human characters, and how that line of good and evil burns pieces of our souls off with each struggle.
Deady’s writing is strong here, sidestepping many of the first novel pitfalls, a big accomplishment for a story that tops five hundred pages. The characterization, especially of Paul, shines. Haven is definitely one of the best debuts of the year. Highly recommended.
Reviewed by Dave Simms