Review of Ruggerio’s New Novel From US Review of Books!

“He could sense that there was someone or worse, something, evil, seemingly crouching in the recesses of the cellar. It fed on his fear.”

The sleepy town of Brunswick, New York, has its share of characters and history that give the town its identity. Unlike most small towns, however, the identity of Brunswick seems to be colored in unspeakable evil. From the abandoned funeral parlor and mansion suspected to be involved in corpse mutilation and unholy sacrifice to a string of cold cases involving murdered and mutilated young girls that the town seems oddly unconcerned with, Brunswick’s past is checkered, to say the least. With a new sheriff in from Philadelphia, some overeager ghost hunters from New Jersey, a local boy enamored by all things dark and spooky, and a rare “All Hallow’s Tide” blood moon all intersecting, the distinction between local legend and supernatural truth is called into question. If there truly is evil in this town, the community must face its past before it can move on.

Calling to mind the idyllic yet horrific New England of Stephen King’s books, the setting of this book is just as pivotal to its suspense and grip as any of its scariest monsters. The duality of what we think of as a simpler, happier lifestyle and the presence of evil lurking in anyone’s heart creates an environment of not knowing who to trust when everyone appears to be what they say at face value. This tension comes to an absolute head near the end of the story, as the author brilliantly sets up each chapter as a vignette about one of the town’s characters or current visitors before throwing alliances and allegiances up in the air on either side of a deadly but resigned cult. The pressure builds slowly but releases in an instant, always hinting at something sinister lurking but not in a hurry to reveal its secrets. The result is unsettling… yet satisfying.