On the Isle of Man, the Manx celebrate their version of Halloween every October 31st, a dark tradition called Hop-tu-naa.
Claire Cooper is eight years old when her mother takes her out in her handmade costume for the holiday. Their final stop is at her mother’s employer, a creepy old man who frightens Claire. The next morning her mother disappears, with ramifications that affect the rest of her life.
As a teenager, Claire is lonely and a bit odd. An acquaintance invites her to join her group of friends, and it turns out that they perform a game of dares every Hop-tu-naa, eventually with devastating results. Fast forward a little more and Claire has become a cop, investigating a deadly car accident on Hop-tu-naa. It turns out the victim was one of her teen friends, and then another of the group dies, and Claire realizes she may be next.
There are dark and stormy nights, children playing in a dark wood, and more of the usual horror tropes that work to create a really sinister atmosphere. Ewan explores the darker side of Manx folklore that spans twenty years of October 31sts in this chilling page turner that is more horror than thriller.
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12/15 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™
DARK TIDES by Chris Ewan. Minotaur Books (December 8, 2015). ISBN 978-1250074423. 448p.