The Blackstone Chronicles #1: An Eye For An Eye: The Doll

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Starting this month, John Saul offers readers his ultimate tale of terror--one piece at a time. Beginning with An Eye for an Eye: The Doll, the Blackstone Chronicles brings to eerie life the small New England town of Blackstone--and the dark secrets and sins that lay buried there.

Starting this month, John Saul offers readers his ultimate tale of terror--one piece at a time. Beginning with An Eye for an Eye: The Doll, the Blackstone Chronicles brings to eerie life ...

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Starting this month, John Saul offers readers his ultimate tale of terror--one piece at a time. Beginning with An Eye for an Eye: The Doll, the Blackstone Chronicles brings to eerie life the small New England town of Blackstone--and the dark secrets and sins that lay buried there.

Starting this month, John Saul offers readers his ultimate tale of terror--one piece at a time. Beginning with An Eye for an Eye: The Doll, the Blackstone Chronicles brings to eerie life the small New England town of Blackstone--and the dark secrets and sins that lay buried there. (Fiction--Horror)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780449227817
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 12/28/1996
  • Series: Blackstone Chronicles Series , #1
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 82
  • Product dimensions: 4.21 (w) x 6.86 (h) x 0.27 (d)

Read an Excerpt


The Beginning

The old Seth Thomas Regulator began to chime the hour. Oliver Metcalf kept typing only long enough to finish the sentence before abandoning the editorial he was composing to gaze thoughtfully at the wood-cased clock that had hung on the wall of the Blackstone Chronicle's one-room office for far more years than Oliver himself could remember. It was the clock that first fascinated him when his uncle brought him here more than forty years ago and taught him how to tell time, and the clock still fascinated him, with its rhythmic ticking, and because it kept time so perfectly that it had to be adjusted by no more than a single minute every year.

Now, after marking the thousands of hours of his life with its soft chime, it was reminding Oliver that the hour had come for him to perform his part in an event that would take place only once.

Today, the town of Blackstone was going to take the first, significant step in the destruction of part of its history.

Oliver Metcalf, as editor and publisher of the town's weekly newspaper, had been asked to make a speech. He'd made preparatory notes for several days but still had no idea precisely what he would say when the moment finally arrived for him to stand at the podium, the great stone structure rising behind him, and face his fellow townsmen. As he picked up the sheaf of notes and tucked it into the inside pocket of his tweed jacket, he wondered if inspiration would strike him when at last he had to speak, or whether he would stare speechlessly out at the gathered crowd as they gazed, waiting, at him.

Questions would be in theirminds.

Questions that no one had spoken aloud for years.

Questions to which he had no answers.

He locked the office door behind him and stepped out onto the sidewalk. Crossing the street to cut through the town square, he considered turning back, skipping the ceremony entirely and instead finishing the editorial upon which he'd been working all morning. It was, after all, exactly the kind of day that was meant for staying indoors. The sky was slate gray, and the previous night's wind had stripped the last of the leaves from the great trees that had spread a protective canopy above the town from spring through fall. In early spring, when the enormous oaks and maples first began to bud, the canopy was the palest of greens. But as summer progressed, the foliage matured and thickened, darkening to a deep green that shaded Blackstone from August's hot glare and sheltered it from the rain squalls that swept through on their way toward the Atlantic seacoast several miles to the east. Over the last few weeks, abundant green had given way to the splendor of fall, and for a while the village had gloried in autumn's shimmering golden, red, and russet tones. Now the ground was littered with leaves, already a dead-looking brown, already beginning the slow process of decay that would return them to the soil from which they'd originally sprung.

Oliver Metcalf started toward the top of the hill where most of the townspeople would soon be gathered. Snow had not yet fallen, but a sodden, chill rain had accompanied last night's wind. It seemed to Oliver that a damp, freezing winter was about to descend. The gray light of the day seemed perfectly to reflect his own bleak mood. The trees, with their huge, naked limbs, raised their skeletal branches grotesquely toward the sky, as if seeking to ward off the lowering clouds with fleshless, twisted fingers. Ducking his head against the ominous morning, Oliver walked quickly through the streets, nodding distractedly to the people who spoke to him, meanwhile trying to focus his mind on what he would say to the crowd that would soon be gathered around the best-known building in town.

The Blackstone Asylum.

Throughout Oliver's life-throughout the lives of everyone in Blackstone-the massive building, constructed of stones dug from the fields surrounding the village, had loomed at the top of the town's highest hill. Its long-shuttered windows gazed out over the town not as if it were abandoned, but rather as though it were sleeping.

Sleeping, and waiting someday to awaken.

A chill passed through Oliver as the thought crossed his mind, but he quickly shook it off. No, it would never happen.

Today, the destruction of the Blackstone Asylum would commence.

A wrecking ball would swing, hurling its weight against those heavy gray stones, and after dominating the town for a full century, the building would finally be torn apart, its stone walls demolished, its turrets fallen, its green copper roof sold off for scrap.

As Oliver stepped through the ornate wrought-iron gates that pierced the fence surrounding the Asylum's entire ten acres, and started up the wide, curving driveway leading to its front door, an arm fell across his shoulders and he heard his uncle's familiar voice.

"Quite a day, wouldn't you say, Oliver?" Harvey Connally said, his booming, hearty voice belying his eighty-three years.

Oliver's gaze followed his uncle's, fixing on the brooding building, and he wondered what was going through the old man's mind. No point in asking; for despite their closeness, he'd always found his uncle far more comfortable discussing ideas than emotions.

"If you talk about emotions, you have to talk about people," Harvey had told him back when he was only ten or eleven years old, and home from boarding school for Christmas. "And talking about people is gossip. I don't gossip, and you shouldn't either." The words had clearly signaled Oliver that there were many things his uncle did not want to discuss.

Still, as the old man gazed up at the building that had risen on North Hill only a few years before his birth, Oliver couldn't help trying one last time.

"Your father built it, Uncle Harvey," he said softly. "Aren't you just a little sorry to see it go?"

His uncle's grip tightened on his shoulder. "No, I'm not," Harvey Connally replied, his voice grating as he spoke the words. "And neither should you be. Good riddance to it, is what I say, and we should all forget everything that ever happened there."

His hand fell from Oliver's shoulder.

"Everything," he said again.

Half an hour later Oliver stood at the podium that had been erected in front of the Asylum's imposing portico, his eyes surveying the crowd. Nearly everyone had come. The president of the bank was there, as was the contractor whose company would demolish most of the old Asylum, keeping only the facade. The plan was to replace the interior with a complex of shops and restaurants that promised to bring a prosperity to Blackstone that no one had known since the years when the institution itself had provided the economic basis for the town's livelihood. Everyone who was involved in the project was there, but there were others as well, people whose parents and grandparents, even great-grandparents, had once worked within the stone walls behind him. Now they hoped that the new structure might provide their children and grandchildren with jobs.

Beyond the assemblage, just inside the gate, Oliver could see the small stone house that had been deeded to the last superintendent of the Asylum, upon the occasion of his marriage to the daughter of the chairman of the Asylum's board of directors.

When the Blackstone Asylum had finally been abandoned and its last superintendent had died, that house, too, stood empty for several years. Then the young man who had inherited it, having graduated from college, returned to Blackstone and moved back into that house, the house in which he'd been born.

Oliver Metcalf had come home.

He hadn't expected to sleep at all on that first night, but to his surprise, the two-story stone cottage seemed to welcome him back, and he'd immediately felt as if he was home. The ghosts he'd expected had not appeared, and within a few years he almost forgot he'd ever lived anywhere else. But in all the years since then, living in the shadow of the Asylum his father had once run, Oliver had not once set foot inside the building.

He'd told himself he had no need to.

Deep in his heart, he'd known he couldn't.

Something inside its walls-something unknowable-terrified him.

Now, as the crowd fell into an expectant silence, Oliver adjusted the microphone and began to speak.

"Today marks a new beginning in the history of Blackstone. For nearly a century, a single structure has affected every family-every individual-in our town. Today, we begin the process of tearing that structure down. This signifies not only the end of one era, but the beginning of another. The process of replacing the old Blackstone Asylum with the new Blackstone Center will not be simple. Indeed, when the new building is finally completed, its facade will look much as the Asylum looks today; constructed of the same stones that have stood on this site for nearly a hundred years, it will look familiar to all of us, but at the same time, all of it will be different...."

For half an hour Oliver continued speaking, his thoughts organizing themselves as he spoke in the same simple, orderly prose that flowed from him when he sat at his computer, composing a feature or an editorial for the newspaper. Then, as the bell in the Congregational church downtown began to strike the hour of noon, he turned to Bill McGuire, the contractor who would oversee the demolition of the old building and construction of the new complex of shops and restaurants as well.

Nodding, Oliver stepped away from the podium, walked down the steps to join the crowd, and turned to face the building as the great lead wrecking ball swung for the first time toward the century-old edifice.

As the last chime of the church bell faded away, the ball punched through the west wall of the building. A sigh that sounded like a moaning wind passed through the crowd as it watched half a hundred fieldstones tumble to the ground, leaving a gaping hole in a wall that had stood solid through ten decades.

Oliver, though, heard nothing of the sigh, for as the ball smashed through the wall, a blinding flash of pain shot through his head.

Through the pain, a fleeting vision appeared ...

A man walks up the steps toward the huge double doors of the Asylum. In his hand he holds the hand of a child.

The child is crying.

The man ignores the child's cries.

As man and boy approach the great oaken doors, they swing open.

Man and boy pass through.

The enormous doors swing closed again.

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Table of Contents

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Interviews & Essays

Before the live chat, John Saul agreed to answer some of our questions.

Q:  How has the computer affected your writing career? Do you feel more, or less, in touch with your audience?

A:  I've always been a fairly lazy writer, which meant that prior to PCs I tended to rewrite sentences (or paragraphs) with new ones of exactly the same length, allowing me to physically cut and paste but avoid retyping entire pages. With the advent of the computer I can cut and paste electronically! It's wonderful! I also increasingly use the Net for research, thus saving myself innumerable trips to the library.

The World Wide Web has allowed me to get much closer to my fans. Though I enjoy computers a great deal and have been working with them for almost 17 years now, I didn't fully realize the potential of a web site until Ballantine Books and Random House put together the Blackstone Chronicles site. That site completely altered the reading experience, and I'm constantly amazed at what is happening at the Red Hen Diner on the Blackstone site. People are moving into Blackstone, getting jobs, making friends, and literally becoming part of a town that, until the web site, existed only in my own mind and on the printed page. Blackstone now exists as a cybertown and has taken on a new reality for many of the readers of the Chronicles. Beyond that, many fans have written to me over the Net, which gives me an instant reaction to my work.

Q:  What, in your mind, is the most useful household gadget/tool/appliance ever invented?

A:  The telephone. I'm able to keep in touch with those I care about and tell solicitors and annoying people to go to hell without them punching me in the face.

Q:  Tell us about the greatest road trip you have ever been a part of.

A:  I truly love cruising the highways. Now I own a motor home, and I enjoy zipping along the interstate watching cars scatter as I switch lanes. Great trips: the North Cascade Highway, east to west across America and Canada, driving through sheep herds in New Zealand, the Going to the Sun Highway in Montana, the Wasatch Plateau in Utah, the Coast Highway in Oregon and California, the Hana Highway on Maui, driving up the Fraser Valley in British Columbia. I love it all, whether I'm driving a convertible with my stereo blasting or in my motor home in search of a humble RV park jammed with a million kids

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2012

    I love these books. John Saul is my favorite author. I am curren

    I love these books. John Saul is my favorite author. I am currently on the fourth book and have been reading a book in the series each day.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2007

    horror at it's best

    I read all of the six books and fell in love wiyh john saul. I read them back in 199?. My girlfriend gave me two at a time to read. The next day i would be begging for the next two. Read it. You will love them. Celeste long

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2002

    excellent reading material

    This is the one of first 6 worderful, exciting, series of books. (blackstone chronicle) I read this series for the first time 4 years ago. And I am current reading the new book were all 6 parts were placed in one great book.

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