Devourer of Souls (Clifton Heights Book 2) by Kevin Lucia
Welcome back to Clifton Heights.
Sheriff Chris Baker and Father Ward meet for a Saturday morning breakfast at The Skylark Diner to once again commiserate over the weird and terrifying secrets surrounding their town.
Sheriff Baker shares with Father Ward the story of a journal discovered in the ruins of what was once an elaborate koi pond and flower garden, which regales a tale of regret, buried pain, and unfulfilled debt:
“Sophan” – Jake Burns has always been a bit...off. Rude, awkward, sometimes brutish, he's tolerated by Nate Slocum and his friends because he hits a mean line drive, and because they all know but don't discuss the abuse he faces at the hands of his troubled father, a Vietnam veteran consumed by his demons. But Jake is suffering something far worse than domestic abuse, and when Nate discovers what, he faces an impossible choice: help Jake and put himself in the path of evil, or abandon him, only to damn himself in the process.
Father Ward reveals the story of a tortured man from the nearby town of Tahawus, who visited his confessional seeking solace from a cosmic horror he can never outrun:
“The Man in Yellow” – Stuart Michael Evans has suffered from cerebral palsy all his life, but he’s made due. Sure, his preacher dad is always yammering about “the healing grace of God” and “God's will,” saying all he needs is faith and someday he’ll be healed, but Stuart mostly ignores him. Life isn’t perfect, but it isn’t awful either, so Stuart figures he doesn't need God to heal him, or do anything, for that matter. Everything changes, however, when a renowned faith healer – Reverend Alistair McIlvian – pays a visit to Tahawus’ annual Summer Vacation Bible School. Revival sweeps the town as Reverend McIlvian’s healing touch makes believers out of everyone. But where do these powers come from? God, or something...else?
Devourer of Souls carries on the classic tradition of T. M. Wright, Norman Prentiss, Mary Sangiovanni, and Ron Malfi.
Brought to you by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths
Interview with the author:
Tell us more about your lead characters:
“Sophan” – It's the late eighties, and Nate Slocum is enjoying summer with his friends. He comes to be confronted with an earthly evil in the most unlikely of places, and learns what a heavy price one pays for failing a friend in need.
“The Man in Yellow” – Stuart Michael Evans has cerebral palsy, but life is okay. It may not be great, but he and his friend Bobby – who suffers from asthma – manage to enjoy life. It's hard, though. Living with his pastor father after his mother passed years ago isn't always easy, especially because Stuart feels that – secretly – his father is ashamed of his only son's handicap. But he manages, even so...
What's up with the town of Clifton Heights?
To be honest, I have no idea, and I'm not sure I want one. Charles L. Grant never explained the source of his fictional town's weirdness, Oxrun Station, (though maybe he intended to before passing away), and even though I've toyed with the idea of some ancient evil slumbering in Clifton Heights, or some cataclysmic mystical event cracking the boundaries between worlds, I'm still unsure if such a thing would be satisfying, or ruin some of the mystery. If it could be done in a satisfying way – such as how Gary Braunbeck has done in his Cedar Hill Cycle – I'd love to do it.