All the Pretty Dead Girls
Pinnacle, Apr 2009, $6.99
She lived under her grandparents’ thumbs as long as she can remember; her grandfather especially was a martinet as he very successfully controlled her thoughts and her activities. They are her guardians as they explained to her that her mother is dead. Sue Barlow is ecstatic when she obtains an iota of freedom by going to the mostly female Wilbourne College in Upstate New York.
Her first impression of the school is a serene tranquil place where nothing bad could occur. Her first inkling that the school was not as peaceful as she thought is when a student vanishes by the college gate with blood engulfing her bike. Soon afterward Sue sees the face of a screaming young woman in Room 323 in Bentley Hall. She learns two decades ago a student was raped in that room and the perpetrator was never caught. People all over the globe are seeing visions of the Virgin who has a message for them; one they can only share with their priest. Two more students disappear and whatever Sue wishes happens. All of these seemingly unconnected events tie together to a twenty-year cycle in which students vanish, but this time the Evil One forces the dark plan of Revelation upon an unsuspecting world; Sue must choose which side she joins as the foci who will determine the fate of humanity.
John Manning’s tense tale starts off as a seemingly simplistic abduction thriller, but turns into a horror saga similar in tome to the early works of Stephen King. Sue is a fascinating lead character as she ponders what her grandparents mean to her after isolating her for so long. She struggles with relationships especially caring friendships. Her childhood of segregation from her peers let alone adults add to the audience sense of dread as we wonder which side she will select when she takes her “Stand”. Readers will enjoy Mr. Manning’s taut horror thriller due to secluded Sue.