The first time Nick Northfield saw a demon was the summer of 1988 in Houston, Texas, when he was nine years old. It wouldn’t be the last. . . .
On the outside, Nick has everything a kid could want: a Nintendo with plenty of games, two good friends, and an unrequited crush whose interest in him might be growing. His mom always told him, “Count your friends on one hand and call yourself lucky,” and Nick always listened. But something is wrong on the inside, for he’s having haunting visions, nightmares that cause him to wake up screaming, and thoughts that he’s different than other kids and very much alone. And not long after his first sighting of a demon, he sees another. . . .
On the opposite side of town, Sal Burke helps operate his family’s candy store by day, and by night embarks upon a vicious killing spree, eager to watch his fame around town grow. And it does, as the town soon grows wary of the vicious murderer known only as the Pied Piper. Now Sal is opening a new candy store in Nick’s part of town . . . and horror will soon follow.
Beware, the Pied Piper is coming to town, and he’s bringing his lust for murder and mayhem with him.
The Seer by Grant Palmquist
I don’t usually read horror novels. Partly because I’m a chicken, but mostly because it’s so hard to find one that is actually any good. The few I have tried focused on suspense that built up but was never justified by the reveal, or spend their time on describing gore and violence just for the sake of being able to. That said, I went into The Seer by Grant Palmquist a bit hesitantly, wondering if this was going to be another letdown. The first page alone let me know that no, it wasn’t going to disappoint. In fact, it was brilliant.
What makes The Seer amazing isn’t the fact that it’s an extremely well written horror story, which it is, but that Grant Palmquist manages to balance out the creep factor with a touching coming-of-age story about an awkward kid who just wants to fit in and, if not necessarily make friends, but be left alone from their daily ridicule. The Seer has such fantastic character development. You can feel for Nick and want to tell him hey, the world sucks, but you’ll be okay, just stick with it. You want to tell Wayne the same thing. And Sal? Well, you just want to tell Sal to get help cuz he is fucked up beyond belief.
Speaking of Sal, he is the main villain. A man in his late 20s forced to move back in with his parents. There is nothing remarkable about his appearance, and yet everyone who comes in contact with him feels uneasy, wary. Even reading about him, you feel creepy and slimy and in need of a shower. That’s before you find out that he has a thing for killing kids, describing it as the only time he’s ever really felt happy and at peace. Throughout the novel, we see Sal’s transformation into a demon spawn, one of the demons that Nick can see. This isn’t what makes Sal horrific. What makes Sal an extremely effective villain that leaves you feeling terrified is how normal he is, how easy it is to imagine there being a Sal in your own neighborhood, how many times there has been a Sal in your city. Jumping into his mind is the most unsettling experience that leaves all the descriptive images of demons and hell paling in comparison.
The Seer by Grant Palmquist is an amazing feat of horror that manages to not only be scary with a creepily convincing villain, but also has moments of levity and tenderness as you see Nick growing up in the midst of all the killings and demons around him. I wholeheartedly recommend this book.
Quotes & Excerpts
It was amazing to see how the old man could change at a moment’s notice, but it taught Sal a valuable lesson: you wear the mask society requires at any given time.
– Chapter 2
“You know, Nick,” he said, “it’s pretty obvious Jake started that fight.”
“Why’d I get suspended, then?”
“Because you fought back. It takes a stronger man to walk away from a fight.”
– Chapter 16 (ugh so angry because this sounds so typical of the education system)
“It doesn’t even matter,” Mark said. “If you start changing because she likes you, if she likes you, then she won’t like you anymore.”
– Chapter 31
He felt empty inside, like he’d freed himself from a ghost that had been caged within his chest and finally released.
And it was good.
He’d stood up to what the world called beautiful and declared it ugly.
– Chapter 34
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