Since the time of The Keep (which in the demise of our much beloved Borders, I have repurchased with intent of rereading), F. Paul Wilson has been one of my favorite purveyors of dark fantasy. Recently I read and reviewed his riff on the classic vampire story, Midnight Mass, and now it is my pleasure to record impressions of the first of a series (likely a short series) that he has written for the YA market.
Jack: Secret Histories is a Repairman Jack novel set in Jack's teen years. Jack, his friend Weezy, and her brother Ed are out exploring the edges of the Pine Barrens in New Jersey. In the course of their work, they discover a dead body and a mysterious artifact. From there the story is a roller coaster ride as they try to decipher the meaning of the artifact, the facts about the dead body and its relationship to a mysterious Lodge, and the realities of teen life int he 70's and 80's.
The story is deftly told, with Wilson's customary aplomb, but absent many of the elements from Wilson's adult fiction that would make of the stories a less suitable vehicle for the YA market. Although the novel does touch on some difficult themes--teen alcoholism and drug use, it does so in a way that seems real for the teen world, and places on Jack the burden of helping without "squealing."
A good, light, enjoyable read. So much so, that I am currently investigating its sequel, Jack : Secret Circles.