Falter Kingdom

148p. ebook available. Unnamed. Aug. 2016. pap. $16. ISBN 9781939419750.
Gr 10 Up—Jaded senior Hunter Warden is existing, not living, disconnected from his friends, his commandeering girlfriend Becca, and his parents, who try but are perpetually absent. An afternoon's delinquency finds Hunter and several classmates at the entrance to Falter Kingdom, a darkened concrete tunnel with a sinister and long-accepted reputation. Those who enter the tunnel run the risk of catching a demon. Fueled by alcohol and boredom, the protagonist "runs the gauntlet" and begins experiencing symptoms of a haunting. Hunter ignores his predicament until Becca finds out, mobilizing with her priest to prepare Hunter for exorcism. But the more time he spends with "H," the more reluctant he is to give the demon up. Seidlinger's tale isn't gory horror but a perceptive commentary on the life and loss of identity of a lonely teenager whose solace comes from Internet surfing and a parasitic demon. While some action is in the form of familiar scary movie tropes, the majority of it takes place in the shared head space of Hunter and "H." This might bore some, but the spirit's slow invasion and subtle manipulation as an understanding companion are creepy.
VERDICT An unsettling title for mature readers who prefer supernatural suspense that takes a backseat to the psychological.

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