American Elsewhere only popped onto my radar thanks to a Cannonball review, so thank you for putting a new (to me) writer on my horizon. A slow burn, it put me very much in mind of HP Lovecraft (minus the racism) living in a Stephen King town. I happen to love that kind of setting, so American Elsewhere turned out to be my kind of catnip.
Mona Bright has been having a difficult few years. An ex-cop, currently unemployed and drifting following the death of her child and relationship, the book opens as she finds out her estranged father has died, leaving her the deeds to her long dead mother’s home in the quaint little town of Wink. Having lost her mother to suicide as a child, Mona takes the opportunity to get to know her by moving into her old home and digging for information about her past through Wink’s current residents, only to find that everyone claims to have never heard of her or the quantum laboratory that she worked in. Soon, Mona starts to discover that Wink has more than one secret hiding behind it’s perfect picket fences, and why the residents all seem to follow a strange set of rules – no-one stays out after dark, no-one strays into the woods, and no-one talks about the ‘arrangements’ they have with what’s out there.
Despite being a rather hefty book, it didn’t feel like that whilst reading, thanks to the tension that was being built throughout. There was some really fantastic imagery and ideas within (which is where the echoes of Lovecraft came in) and I only occasionally found my eyes crossing at some of the quantum stuff, but the mystery being built up was tantalising enough – alongside fantastically creepy characters like rabbit dude and blue suit person – to keep me engaged through the more difficult bits.