John Saul's 'Black Creek Crossing': A Review
As an aspiring writer, I'm always looking for new sources of inspiration and role models. When I heard that Saul lives part time in Seattle, I though it would be great to have a local author that I could look up to. With so many novels under his belt, I though that his staying power in the market would be a great thing to study. So I picked up 'Black Creek Crossing' to see what John Saul was all about. The title was intriguing and the description sounded fantastic. . . but that's about all the book had going for it.
Angel Sullivan hasn't made it past her teen years, but already she's had a tough life. Daily, she suffers severe emotional and verbal abuse at the hands of her drunken father. Her God fearing, over religious, delusional mother refuses to acknowledge the drinking or the abuse. To top everything off, she's viciously ridiculed and tormented by her classmates. Seth Baker is in exactly the same situation. This shy, introverted boy just doesn't seem to fit into his father's idea of what a man should be. Between the constant put downs and savage beatings, Seth has never felt very loved. The school boys find it funny to tease and bully him, and Seth sinks into a depression induced black hole. When Angel moves into Seth's neighborhood, she's hopeful for a new beginning. Except now she has to deal with kids that are twice as cruel as the ones in her old school. They say her new house has a dark twisted history, and are convinced that something must be wrong with her. However, when her father begins acting stranger than normal and she is plagued by odd visions, Seth approaches her as an ally. Together, they've teamed up to uncover exactly what secrets are buried beneath the house.
Let me just start by saying that Saul's attempt at horror is an utter flop. The writing is deathly dull and I was very close to putting this book away. However, my curiosity was sparked a little as Angel and Seth began uncovering the truth about the house at Black Creek Crossing. I'm not convinced in the least by Saul's style. Instead of feeling like I was part of the mystery, Saul barely managed to describe the story instead of evoking any involvement with the reader. Although, I must admit that the best scenes are when Angel and Seth are being bullied by the classmates and family members. Saul was able to able to conjure up some great emotional passages. I was able to sympathize with the two and grew to hate their parents. Even if just for a little while, the characters were believable. The ending did surprise me just a little bit. I figured people would die, it was inevitable, and I did incorrectly guess as to who a couple of the victims would be. Regardless of the single plot twist and the few nicely written scenes, Saul's lack of a voice and slow moving story eclipse anything about the book that was able to shine. Unless a Saul fan requests a special review, I doubt I'll pick up another of his novels. 'Black Creek Crossing' is a story best left buried and never recovered. The book etches a single star from me. . .
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