Aimee Avery has lived in Goffstown, Maine, her whole life, so everyone knows the story of Aimee's crazy mother, who apparently committed suicide, and how Aimee, while pretty, smart, and athletic, maybe isn't quite normal herself. Alan Parson is a half-Navajo football player from Oklahoma whose mother uproots him to live in a place where there isn't even a football team. When Aimee and Alan cross paths, there's an instant spark and instant fear: they've been seeing one another in their terrifying dreams. In waking life, too, friends and family are behaving out of character, strange noises can be heard at night, and the teens are haunted by the presence of a shadowy, supernatural figure that Aimee first encountered during a séance when she was a child. Aimee becomes convinced that "The River Man" has something to do with her mother's death, but could he be a threat to everyone in Goffstown? First-time collaborators Jones and Wedel introduce some chilling machinations, but Aimee and Alan's relationship covers familiar territory, and the slow-burning tension doesn't achieve the true sizzle of horror. Ages 12–up. (Sept.)
VOYA - Kathleen Beck
After obsession comes possession, the final stage of consorting with demons. When Courtney's fisherman father is lost at sea, she offers herself to the shadowy, supernatural River Man in a desperate bid to find him. Now it is up to Courtney's best friend, Aimee, and cousin Alan to rescue her. Aimee, who has prophetic dreams and can heal people, fears that her dead mother was another of the River Man's victims. Alan, newly arrived in Maine from Oklahoma, calls on his Navajo heritage to fight the evil threatening his new town. As tension rises, Aimee and Alan must set aside their growing attraction to defeat the looming threat of the River Man. Jones and Wedel, both experienced scifi/horror writers, offer first-person, present-tense, alternating chapters in the voices of Aimee and Alan. They share a taste for awkward similes ("I ...smile at her like a guy trying to hide the fact that he's just torn his ACL."Wedel) and sometimes perplexing phrasing ("[H]e denies anything that even hints away from reality just can't exist."Jones). The hastily-written text nevertheless will keep readers going on sheer momentum. Alan's Native American spiritual practices are culturally muddled. The River Man remains curiously abstract rather than frightening and his connection with Native American mythology is cursory. The cover design, depicting a glamorous girl clad in a strapless gown, is frankly misleading, but fans of the genre will happily forgive structural weaknesses. If romantic horror stories are popular in your library, this will fly off the shelf. Reviewer: Kathleen Beck
Children's Literature - Shawn Buckenmeyer
Something is going horribly wrong in a small Maine town. Something dark and ancient is wheedling its way into the townspeople's lives, bringing out the worst in people's personalities, committing grisly acts of murder, and taking root within one girl's body. Aimee and Alan are typical teenagers with one exception; they both have secret powers, powers that will serve as the only weapon that can defeat the evil that has wrapped its arms around the town. Aimee's best friend Courtney is experiencing the four stages of demonic possession: Invitation, Infestation, Obsession, and Possession. With After Obsession, Jones and Wedel have crafted an interesting Young Adult horror story filled with likable leads, magical powers, Native American mythology, and enough chills to keep readers entertained. However, it does have shortcomings. The romance between Aimee and Alan seems to be instantaneous and lacks an adequate build-up. The story was also written in two voices, so at times it was confusing telling the two apart. Still, while the writing is occasionally clunky, that can be overlooked since this fun and fast-paced story is an easy read and an enjoyable form of escapism. Reviewer: Shawn Buckenmeyer
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—In Aimee Avery's quiet Maine town, folks have been acting strangely; people seem irritated and fights are breaking out daily. Aimee's friend Courtney has turned into a different person since her father's death. Even Aimee's nice-guy boyfriend, Blake, is acting oddly possessive. When Courtney's cousin Alan moves to town, he also notices the bizarre energy—as well as Aimee. Aimee has always been different, but she has tried her best to fit in. She has been missing her mother terribly since her death and her abilities to heal people with her touch and "see things in her dreams before they happen" weigh on her heavily. Alan is half Navajo and has an understanding of the spirit world. As Courtney slowly becomes possessed by a demon, Aimee and Alan realize that something evil that has plagued the small town for centuries has found a powerful host and is bent on destroying everything in its path. Told in the alternating voices of Aimee (penned by Jones) and Alan (written by Wedel), this tale has it all: an eerie setting, a powerful romance, and a terrifying dark force. In spite of the slightly over-the-top showdown, Jones's fans will devour this one, which, thanks to Wedel, offers a fresh male perspective.—Tara Kehoe, Plainsboro Public Library, NJ
In a tight-knit Maine town, the loss of a fishing boat at sea affects the entire community; for Courtney, a local teen whose father was on board, her hope for his safe return becomes a dangerous obsession that leads her to make a sinister pact with evil consequences.
Narrated in alternating chapters by Courtney's best friend, Aimee, and cousin, Alan, the tale relegates Courtney to the backseat in order to explore Alan and Aimee's fantastical roles and their burgeoning relationship. Since childhood, Aimee has been ashamed of her prophetic dreams and ability to heal, which she links to her mother, who mysteriously died when she was young. Similarly, Alan, who has just moved from Oklahoma to Maine to help Courtney and her mother, also enjoys a mystical heritage that stems from his father's Native American roots. Together this powerful pair struggles to release Courtney from her obsession, which clearly arises from more than emotional turmoil. How can they leverage their powers to defeat the River Man and ensure that the friendly and warm pre-obsession Courtney is restored? The River Man is a powerful opponent; the alternating voices effectively ratchet up the tension as the teens explore the mystery and strategize their approach.
This modern-day Faustian tale is well balanced, with teenage romance, racial tension, humor and threads of realistic family dynamics to keep readers engaged.(Suspense. 12 & up)