Sallow Bend by Alan Baxter is a tense and mysterious tale about brutal deaths that occur when a darkness overtakes a small town. But as always, there is light in the darkness!
Content Warnings: Forced suicide, mentions of rape, domestic abuse, alcoholism.
Full disclosure: I was given a free copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my rating in any way.
Let’s dive in!
My Thoughts on Sallow Bend by Alan Baxter
In the small town of Sallow Bend, there’s an old story that warns that misfortune comes to the town every so often. It starts with someone going missing, then people start to die. The problem? Only a few people seem to remember this, and when its discussed, others seem to forget right away.
When Claire and Suki, two teenage girls, go missing, they’re found by one of the carnival workers that had just rolled into town. But strangely, there was a third girl named Hester who was found with them, and everyone seems to know she had actually gone missing with the two other girls in the first place. Only one man, Caleb, can see through the facade. Everyone else seems to be under some kind of spell that makes their memories a bit slippery.
Who is Hester? What does she have to do with the darkness that has settled over the town? And can Caleb figure it all out before he’s the next one to die?
This entire story had me feeling anxious and tense. The darkness sets in early on, and things only get worse as time goes on. I loved not knowing what to expect with this one as I actually hadn’t even read the book description before diving in. The joys of picking up a book just by knowing the author’s previous works!
Tricia and Caleb were amazing characters to follow throughout this story. I loved each of them individually, but I loved them even more when they were together. They both had to overcome so much, but didn’t let it turn them into awful people. Instead, they let their experiences empower them to do what needed to be done. It was also wonderful to see their friendship grow over time. I especially loved Caleb and how hard he worked to open up.
The grief captured within this, while not a major focus of the tale, really packed quite the punch and was mixed in perfectly with the terror and violence that was all around it.
I had so much fun reading this story! While I loved the ending, I also couldn’t help but want more! I wasn’t ready to let these characters go.
My Favorite Passages from Sallow Bend
The forest was gloomy, but the summer sun regularly pierced the thick canopy, lancing down to the leaf litter in bright shards alive with dust motes and floating pollen. Low, twisting vines and dark green ground cover swarmed over thick roots that made walking a treacherous effort if he stopped paying attention.
In all honesty he was glad of Steve’s story because it forewent the need for any kind of regular conversation. He could happily spend time among people if one of them simply spun a yearn. That was just like a living book.
The air had a chill to it that raised gooseflesh on their arms, their footsteps strangely loud. As they got close, Riley felt as though even the woods held their breath. Tension hung in the air, a sensation of taut expectation.
The thing in him that had snapped that day still whipped loosely around the back of his mind, like a broken powerline in a storm.
Caleb narrowed his eyes, saw that her features were shifted ever so slightly, as if they were wax and she’d been too near a fire. Or out too long in the sun.
Caleb pursed his lips to think about that. “I think people have an incredible ability to forget things they don’t like, and to make the same mistakes over and over again,” he said eventually.
My Final Thoughts on Sallow Bend
Another must-read from Mr. Baxter! This story will suck you right into its darkness. Your anxiety of what’s to come lighting the way to see the tale through.
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