Maple Springs is a strange little town. The people are stranger, oblivious to what is happening right under their noses and a certain woman named Lucinda Mayweather likes it that way. You see, it is she who has cast a spell over the town through her famous baked goods and custom pheromone scents. Hence, everyone likes her. What is the secret to her beauty and desirability? The “shadow man” knows.
Then there is nine-year-old Duncan and his collection of action figures, but there’s one that is more special to him than the others, a gorilla with cloven hooves and large curved antlers (see cover). Duncan’s sister Robyn knows there’s something strange going on in Maple Springs. Her best friend has disappeared, like so many other residents of the town over the years. Old and young men and women, there’s no pattern to it and all the townspeople (including the police) are not concerned. They have all just “moved away” is the explanation, but Robyn for one isn’t buying it.
A light crackling of brush came from where the girl had hidden, and a small dark silhouette appeared in the shadows. The small figure remained hidden as a large lumbering shape with glowing red eyes emerged from the brush yet clung to the shadows. The large creature took a long stride, reached a weirdly beast-like arm covered in stiff hairs into the faint glow of the streetlamp, scooped up the crumpled poster from the ground and quickly stepped back into the darkness of the trees. The small figure stepped backwards following the much larger thing vanishing into the dark park where it had previously concealed itself. Moments later, in the stillness, the lamppost light began flickering again for a few moments and then burned out, letting the darkness win this night.
To say any more about the plot of Maple Springs would be to give it away, and Mr. Arseneault has crafted a very good story with several well-timed twists that keep your interest page after page. It might not be a demonic horror novel as the cover might suggest, but there are horrific parts, along with a good dose of eerieness, suspense, and mystery. There’s even a dash of humour as an unsuspecting mob hitman stumbles into the middle of this crisis in Maple Springs.
In my opinion, this is Mr. Arseneault’s best book since Poplar Falls: The Death of Charlie Baker reviewed here in 2018. This is not to diminish the popularity of his Oakwood Island series (which is more firmly in the Horror genre). Good reading, but best read in the daylight because the shadow man lurks in those dimly lit corners!
The youngest of eleven children, Pierre C. Arseneault grew up in the small town of Rogersville, New Brunswick, Canada. As a cartoonist, Pierre was published in over a dozen newspapers. As an author, he has written solo and in collaboration with five titles published so far. Pierre currently lives in the outskirts of his hometown again, near Rogersville in New Brunswick, Canada.
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