Although filmmaker Eric Shaw has an intuitive sense of storytelling, and for presenting provocative, resonant images, his career trajectory has not gone as planned. Starting at the top, he now finds himself mired in the middle, reduced to creating mini-documentaries shown at funerals. It is at one such funeral that he is hired to create a film about hard-nosed businessman Campbell Brown, who hailed from the small Indiana town of West Baden Springs. Armed with minimal background, and a preternaturally cold bottle of mineral water, he travels there, unknowingly enabling a long dormant supernatural force to act on ancient grudges. Finding himself in the middle of increasingly bizarre happenings, Shaw struggles to maintain his sanity and to stay alive.
One theory about purchasing hardcover books at today’s inflated prices is that they yield more value than a similarly priced meal at a good restaurant, providing many more hours of enjoyment in comparison. That theory certainly holds for Koryta’s second standalone novel, a true literary feast. Already an outsized talent, Koryta continues to grow and improve with this eerie and engrossing supernatural mystery. Shaw is an ideal protagonist, reacting to strange events in exactly the way many of us would, initially with skepticism, then slowly responding more forcefully. Koryta makes him believable and credible, grounding his tale solidly in the real world before introducing more outré elements, creating a novel which compares favorably to such horror classics as Stephen King’s The Shining and Peter Straub’s Ghost Story.