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March 6, 2024

What Grows in the Dark by Jaq Evans ~ a Review

by MK French

Sixteen years ago, Brigit Wylan's sister Emma walked into the forest and committed suicide. Now Brigit is investigating paranormal activity, sometimes faking results. She never expected a call from her hometown regarding missing children who had dreamed of Emma in the forest. Brigit and her cameraman Ian are now investigating, getting drawn deeper into it. She can't explain what's happening to her, as she sees trees in her room at night, hears laughter and Emma on the phone. Emma might have been right about a monster in town, and it's been waiting for Brigit to come home.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of horror novel What Grows in the Dark by Jaq Evans
March 2024; MIRA; 978-0778369684
audio, ebook, print (304 pages); horror

Brigit doesn't tell Ian much if anything about her relationship with Emma before leaving her hometown. The two work a grift, hoping to create a show out of it. Preteens and teens have been going missing or dying in the same stretch of forest for decades before Emma’s death. The birch trees are figuring into nightmares the teens had before disappearing, and now that Brigit is back, she has them, too. She doesn't say anything, as it's hard to be back in town, and she's not sure if she's losing her mind. The paranormal activity in town is subtle, and she no longer has an insider's perspective. 

The dual perspective of Brigit and Ian as they start investigating the missing teens and trying to figure out what's really happening helps with the story. Brigit is more than willing to forget the past, so even in her chapters it dribbles out and seems like she's an unreliable narrator. Ian becomes our reliable one, the stranger looking in on small-town shenanigans. The other people in town have their quirks, and few people really understand that there is a presence in the woods, and its presence gets more malevolent and creepy. It doesn't care about people or humans but has the desire to be recognized, just as humans do. Its true purpose might never be known, but the horror ratchets up at the end and keeps you guessing what would happen next. The tension in the novel really digs into you and is haunting in its own way. 

Buy What Grows in the Dark at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever.

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