Finished Reading: The Lost Causes of Bleak Creek
by Rhett McLaughlin & Link Neal
My rating: 4.5 / 5
Genre: Thriller, horror
In 1992, the small town of Bleak Creek, NC has a reform school where children who act up are threatened to be sent. It is viewed by all of the locals as a necessary place that really works…even if 3 kids have died in freak accidents there in the last 10 years. Best friends Rex and Leif are horrified when the third member of their trio, Alicia, is sent to the school because of a catastrophe that all 3 were to blame for. They question what they might do to save Alicia, eventually teaming up with a recent film student graduate to delve into the mysteries of the school and expose its secrets.
This was a fun, easy read, with 90s references and characters that seemed all-too-real. Rex & Leif, while best friends, had issues that arose from being too close, almost like sibling rivalry. The mystery of the school developed in a way that kept my attention, and especially had me wanting to come back and keep reading after I’d hit the half-way point. And the ending, which can make or break a thriller more than most other genres, was well-executed.
The main reason for the half-star detraction is that some of Rex & Leif’s arguments were a little unrealistic, given what was going on around them when they had them. I know things like that can happen in real life–as someone with 3 sisters, I know that we didn’t always take into account whether or not our petty squabbles were a good idea in the current circumstances. But on the other hand, I’d like to think we would have been above that during some of the particular situations in which Rex & Leif argued (not giving specifics to avoid spoilers).
While it’s labeled as a horror book, this book was not scary to me at all. I said this in another review recently, but I’m really not into horror much as a genre, in any medium (so why did I just read 2 horror books in a row?). This also means I’ve not read much horror, so I don’t honestly know how it normally works in book-form. But to me, this was suspenseful, but I wouldn’t call it horror. If it were made into a movie, I could see some visuals being pretty horrific though, so maybe that means the tone wasn’t set right in the book to make parts that could have been scary appropriately creepy.
I’ve read so many thrillers lately that promise everything up until the last 20% of the book, and then fail to deliver the right punch to drive home the thrills. I was skeptical as I neared the end of this book, but it did its job perfectly! It was just what I would have wanted it to be. Plus, a character that was a minor annoyance (intentionally) throughout the book had me laughing and cheering at the end, which was a plus!
I read this book because my nearly adult son is a big fan of Rhett & Link and Good Mythical Morning. He was interested in reading it and thought I might like to too (mostly just because he knows I’ve been getting back into reading a lot lately). So we got it from the library as soon as their hardcover copy came in. He hasn’t finished it yet (he’s never been much of a recreational reader, so he needs nudges to even remember to read it), but I can say that from the perspective of someone who has seen very little of Rhett & Link’s online presence, I’m really glad I read this book. I would recommend it for fans of thrillers and horror, understanding that it’s a very mild horror.
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If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!