Summary: The town of Gilford has a Big and Terrible secret hidden in the ground. Infecting those it touches. Exploiting their darkness. Consuming their souls. It’s hungry. It’s vile. It’s evil. And it wants out. Book Two: Rule Four and Five. A new chance at life comes in many forms: For Jon it’s a family made with Ellis and his brother Rudy. For Ellis, it’s Jon, who has brought the outside world into the protective life he’s built for his mentally disabled brother. Together they have discovered true happiness and what it means to be loved.
Then one perfect disaster after the other pushes Jon’s resolve to its limit and Ellis over the edge. If they have any chance of saving what they’ve built both men must face their deepest fears. It’s a test Jon thought he’d already passed and one Ellis never imagined he’d have to face. The journey will forever change who they are and redefine who they were meant to be. It has to happen. And all things happen for a reason.
Review: The second book in the trilogy opens a few weeks after the events of the first book. Jon moves in with Ellis and Rudy while the town bully Lenny continues to run amok with no one able / willing to stop his escalating harassment of Jon, Ellis, and Rudy. The stress of all this causes Jon and Ellis to disagree strongly on how to protect themselves , which leads to a heart-rending blow-up and separation between the two men. This is well-written and understandable from each man’s viewpoint.
Meanwhile, the story introduces a few more supernatural elements as the main characters receive portentous warnings about the Big and Terrible secret (see book blurb) via dreams, Jon’s utterances when sleepwalking and sleeptalking, visions of Jon’s dead brother, and the occasional remark from Rudy. As with most horror novels, these cryptic scraps of information are not intended to be useful in helping the characters figure things out so much as to increase the scary atmosphere.
As with the first book, our heroes just can’t seem to catch a break whereas the town bully does whatever he wants which results in some increasing ugly scenes of harassment and much vilification of “faggots” and “retards.” Eventually the book ends up in a very dark place that asks a lot of the reader’s tolerance. To be honest, I just couldn’t enjoy this book because of the unrelenting pain that the story unleashes upon the characters. This is on top of the pain suffered in the first book after the whole town-bully plot got introduced.
I know the Big and Terrible secret is backing the villain and that’s why he always wins, but if our heroes acquired some supernatural mojo of their own – at least enough to win the occasional victory – then their story might be more even-handed and less hopeless. Perhaps this is coming in the third book.