on January 2, 2015
Genres: Dark Fiction, Fiction, Ghost, Horror, Occult & Supernatural, Paranormal, Psychological Horror, Supernatural, Thriller
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The year is 1980. Jeff Schaeffer, Leah Carter, and Bobby Nagel decide to go out for "one last Halloween" before adolescence takes away their childhood forever.
But this Halloween is different, they soon discover; and an outing that was supposed to be light-hearted and fun becomes a battle for sanity--and perhaps even survival.
From the author of the reader-acclaimed “Eleven Miles of Night”, “12 Hours of Halloween” is a coming-of-age tale unlike any you have ever read.
A sinister teenager known as “the ghost boy” declares that Jeff Schaeffer and his friends will endure “twelve hours of trial” on Halloween. The three young people subsequently find their once familiar suburban surroundings transformed into a bizarre and terrifying landscape.
They discover that just beneath the surface of their middle-American neighborhood lies a secret realm of haunted houses, demonically possessed trees, and spirits with unfinished business. One entity, called the “head collector”, lurks the darkened streets in search of grisly trophies.
At the same time, Jeff is forced to confront new feelings for both of his old friends.
He believes that he is in love with Leah, but does Leah feel the same way?
Meanwhile, his friend Bobby, who had always protected him from local bullies, now seems to harbor a dark agenda that threatens to divide and possibly destroy them all.
12 HOURS OF HALLOWEEN: A Novel, is the first book I have read by author Edward Trimnell. I came across this one while looking specifically for Halloween-themed reads this October, through the recommendation of a friend. This was, unquestionably, my favorite “seasonal” novel of the year. I was expecting a “coming-of-age” tale with supernatural influences–according to the synopsis–but was overwhelmingly impressed with the depth of the characters and the complexity of the complete story.
“. . . When we are young, we perceive and feel a lot of things that seem implausible and almost fantastical in later life. The older a man gets, the easier it becomes for him to doubt the perceptions of the . . . boy he once was . . . “
We begin with Jeff, a man with children of his own, out shopping near Halloween time. A couple glimpses of “things” that he knows are visible only to him, sets him back to the memory of his last Halloween, in the year 1980.
“. . . A funny thing about flashbacks: they come unbidden, and at the most unexpected times . . . “
The majority of this tale is about that year, when he was twelve years old, along with his best friends, Bobby and Leah. That was the year when the three of them realized that their small town was . . . close . . . to a boundary that was already stretched thinly between worlds that were not meant to overlap.
“. . . a liminal time . . . a time when the barriers between the world of the living and the world of the dead break down, or at least grow thin . . . “
It was a Halloween that would change each of them in many ways.
Trimnell does an amazing job of characterization–not just with the three main characters, but with each and every being we encounter. Even a teacher passing by felt like someone I actually knew by the time I was through reading their part. Each scene, action, or movement was so clearly detailed that it was possible to “believe” the events unfolding actually occurred. All of this was accomplished without falling into the trap of being “too informative”. In this novel, we don’t come across random info dumps, but rather glean our knowledge by being shown–by the conversations and physical responses that the characters exhibit.
“. . . each one of us was very much alone, no matter how much time we might spend together . . . “
The way that these characters change throughout the story is described in such ways that they feel undeniably natural and right. Trimnell utilizes powerful observations, insights, and comments so that the reader feels as if they, too, are growing from this environment and the situations encountered.
“. . . If you do the right thing for selfish reasons, does that detract from the rightness of the act itself? . . .”
Besides our characters, the atmosphere in this novel feels just about perfect in every way. We aren’t suddenly thrust into a cliched “dark and stormy night”, but rather, the very normalcy of everything in the town NOT effecting our journey makes the supernatural events somehow seem that much more convincing and potent. I found it so easy to suspend disbelief and simply go along for the incredible ride that Edward Trimnell has created in this emotive and fast-paced tale.
“. . . Salvation could come out of nowhere, but so could disaster . . . “
Overall, I felt that this novel was a five-star read in every possible way. With strong, believable characters, real human emotions, and an atmosphere that was perfectly suited for every event we come across, I actually “felt”as if the story was taking place before me. In 12 HOURS OF HALLOWEEN, the supernatural and the ordinary are able to merge and coexist completely, leaving us with dangerous situations, destruction, and children forced to mentally “evolve” in order to stay on top of the events unfolding.
“. . . good friends and loved ones can be taken from you–sometimes by death, and sometimes simply by the way they change . . . by the ways in which you change . . . “
A fantastically imaginative book that I thoroughly enjoyed all the way through.