author: Scott Nicholson
series: Sheriff Frank Littlefield #1
published: 19 July 2014
publisher: Haunted Computer Books
buy/shelve it: Amazon | B&N | BookHype | Goodreads
For 13-year-old Ronnie Day, life is full of problems: Mom and Dad have separated, his brother Tim is a constant pest, Melanie Ward either loves him or hates him, and Jesus Christ won't stay in his heart. Plus he has to walk past the red church every day, where the Bell Monster hides with its wings and claws and livers for eyes. But the biggest problem is that Archer McFall is the new preacher at the church, and Mom wants Ronnie to attend midnight services with her.
Sheriff Frank Littlefield hates the red church for a different reason. His little brother died in a freak accident at the church twenty years ago, and now Frank is starting to see his brother's ghost. And the ghost keeps demanding, "Free me." Now people are dying in Whispering Pines, and the murders coincide with McFall's return.
The Days, the Littlefields, and the McFalls are descendants of the original families that settled the rural Appalachian community. Those old families share a secret of betrayal and guilt, and McFall wants his congregation to prove its faith. Because he believes he is the Second Son of God, and that the cleansing of sin must be done in blood.
"Sacrifice is the currency of God," McFall preaches, and unless Frank and Ronnie stop him, everybody pays.
On the way home from school one day, Timmy and Ronnie Day find a body in the graveyard of a long-abandoned church, the Red Church. From that moment on, their lives, as well as the lives of all of the “old” families of their small Appalachian mountain town, are forever changed. An evil, disguised as the true savior of humanity, is unleashed and people begin to die.
I love a good horror novel and this was my first by Nicholson. The story was a perfect blend of horror and gore, psychological thrills and twists and turns. The central theme is that of good versus evil, but it is presented im a truly unique way, making the reader question just which side is the good and which is the evil. The cult philosophy is very evident as the characters in the novel interact with each other and change, blurring the lines between what is real and what is cult-minded. The action was fast-paced and had all the elements of a truly wonderful horror novel. I was kept on the edge, constantly questioning and wondering what was going to happen next.
The “creepy” factor was high and I loved it! I highly recommend this read!