The Twilight Pariah – Jeffrey Ford, 2017.
Violence erupts when a trio of college students unwittingly unleashes an age-old monster in The Twilight Pariah.
Home for summer break, Henry and Russell agree to help Maggie with her new – clandestine – archaeology project: excavating the outhouse pit of the nearby abandoned mansion.
Harmless, right? And who knows how much more time the friends have together before their separate schools and careers cause them to drift apart? This may be their last adventure together. In more ways than one.
To their shock, they uncover the misshapen skeleton of an infant. A not-quite-human infant. The three quickly discover that they’ve disturbed something else: a monster that has plagued the small town in the past. Now, they are its targets. Henry, Russell and Maggie must learn the creature’s secrets and end its rampage once and for all, before more people die.
The Twilight Pariah is a fun, quick, novella-length read that stands out because of its characters. Russell, the gentle giant. Henry, mild and unsure. Maggie a driving force. Ford excels in bringing their personalities to life, giving them vivacity and a sweetness and surprising depth in a very short space. The character of Professor Medley, a creaky cryptozoologist, made me laugh out loud. That’s the other part of this book that elevates it above typical: its wry and gentle sense of humor.
The story itself is enjoyable: it is successfully atmospheric, has a uniquely-imagined monster, and tension builds to a satisfying climax. Characterization, however, carries the day.