It’s been a while since I finished a book feeling this drained, broken. Maybe the last time was Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door. At the center of both is the relentless mental and physical abuse of a child at the hands of an adult. In Ketchum’s infamous novel, the abuse is born of hate. In Conlon’s work it is of love . . . twisted love, anyway. A junior high English teacher has fallen for one of her students — and it quickly spirals out of control.
Consensual sex in my reading does not bother me. Rape, however, does. Especially child rape. This book has child rape in spades. I’m petty tough to horrify, and this one had me almost seething with anger. But that’s a sign of a successful horror novel: the reader is left uncomfortable.
Christopher Conlon is now on my radar and I will check out his other books. While this book’s subject matter is very sensitive, a horror story that gets under my skin in this way is a rare find. I feel like I need a bath.