Monday, August 5, 2019

Book Review: 'Resthaven' by Erik Therme

Iowa author Erik Therme, from what he shares in his bio data, seems like a fascinating and very handsome father of two who has ‘thrashed in garage bands, inadvertently harbored runaways, and met Darth Vader.’ That bit of info makes us like him even before we read his young adult adventure books (this is his second available on Kindle). His books are short, well crafted, full of great ideas and are tales that will offer enough of the ‘don’t turn off the lights after reading it’ element to satisfy not only the teenage audience to whom they appear to be directed, but also to adults who yearn for a brief escape form reality to become involved in a fine mystery.

As far as his choice of genre is concerned Erik has said, ‘RESTHAVEN, at heart, is a young adult novel, so I tried not to make it too terrifying. I have two teenage daughters (one that’s obsessed with horror movies) so I wanted to write something they would enjoy. The story follows a pack of girls who venture into an abandoned retirement home for a scavenger hunt, and everything quickly goes wrong. I’ve always wanted to tell a story that unfolds in a creepy, old building, and RESTHAVEN fit the bill nicely.’

Erik’s ability to capture the teenage approach to language and life in general is like coached by his daughters, but to share a bit of how well he has honed in on this style, read the opening: ‘Listen. That’s my father’s favorite word. I’m pretty sure that’s why he left my mother and me: we never listened. What does he expect? My mother hides behind a computer sixty hours a week, and I’m only fifteen. It’s not in our nature to listen. Case in point: I think my mother just asked a question I didn’t catch— which is bad— because she hates repeating herself almost as much as I do. My best defense is to keep staring out the car window, pretending I didn’t hear. “Well?” she asked. “Yeah,” I said, “I get it. You hate me.” “Kaylee, I don’t hate you. And we both know you brought this on yourself.” “Me? How is this my fault? I haven’t done anything—” “Exactly. It’s been three weeks since we moved here, and in that time you’ve made zero effort to make friends or leave the apartment. If it wasn’t for Anna, you wouldn’t do anything but come home from school and sulk in your room.” I slunk down further in the passenger seat. “Yeah, and if it wasn’t for Anna I wouldn’t even be here right now.” “Well, I think it was very generous of these girls to invite you over tonight, so at least try and make an effort. It’s only for a few hours.” I scowled out my window, knowing it was pointless to argue. Once my mother made up her mind it took an act of God, or an argument with my father, to change it. “I’ll make you a deal,” I said, scrambling upright. “We’ll go back to the apartment, make popcorn, and watch old, sappy movies the rest of the night. Deal? OK, deal. Let’s go.” There is the flavor that pervades this smart little novel.

The plot is well delineated in Erik’s synopsis – ‘The last thing Kaylee wants to do is participate in a childish scavenger hunt--especially inside the abandoned retirement home on the edge of town. When she finds a bruised, deaf boy hiding inside one of the rooms, she vows to lead him to safety . . . only to discover the front doors are now padlocked, and her friends are nowhere to be found. Kaylee is about to learn that not everything that goes 'bump in the night' is imaginary, and sometimes there are worse things to fear than ghosts.’

This book, as his first book MORTOM, is destined to be a success – and probably garner even more awards. Refreshing and smart, but most of all, exceptionally entertaining. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp, May 16

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.