Review: Disappearance at Devil’s Rock by Paul Tremblay

Title: Disappearance at Devil’s Rock by Paul Tremblay
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 336 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss


A family is shaken to its core after the mysterious disappearance of a teenage boy in this eerie tale, a blend of literary fiction, psychological suspense, and supernatural horror from the author of A Head Full of Ghosts.

A Head Full of Ghosts scared the living hell out of me, and I’m pretty hard to scare,” raved Stephen King about Paul Tremblay’s previous novel. Now, Tremblay returns with another disturbing tale sure to unsettle readers.

Late one summer night, Elizabeth Sanderson receives the devastating news that every mother fears: her thirteen-year-old son, Tommy, has vanished without a trace in the woods of a local park.

The search isn’t yielding any answers, and Elizabeth and her young daughter, Kate, struggle to comprehend Tommy’s disappearance. Feeling helpless and alone, their sorrow is compounded by anger and frustration: the local and state police have uncovered no leads. Josh and Luis, the friends who were the last to see Tommy before he vanished, may not be telling the whole truth about that night in Borderland State Park, when they were supposedly hanging out a landmark the local teens have renamed Devil’s Rock.

Living in an all-too-real nightmare, riddled with worry, pain, and guilt, Elizabeth is wholly unprepared for the strange series of events that follow. She believes a ghostly shadow of Tommy materializes in her bedroom, while Kate and other local residents claim to see a shadow peering through their windows in the dead of night. Then, random pages torn from Tommy’s journal begin to mysteriously appear—entries that reveal an introverted teenager obsessed with the phantasmagoric; the loss of his father, killed in a drunk-driving accident a decade earlier; a folktale involving the devil and the woods of Borderland; and a horrific incident that Tommy believed connects them.

As the search grows more desperate, and the implications of what happened become more haunting and sinister, no one is prepared for the shocking truth about that night and Tommy’s disappearance at Devil’s Rock.


In Disappearance at Devil’s Rock by Paul Tremblay, a teenage boy goes missing and a series of strange events indicates supernatural forces may have something to do with his disappearance.

Late one night, Elizabeth Sanderson receives the phone call that every parent dreads-her thirteen year old son Tommy has vanished from a sleepover with his friends Luis and Josh.  The boys snuck out from Josh’s house with a backpack full of beer and hiked to an isolated group of rocks in nearby Borderland State Park.  Josh and Luis lost sight of Tommy and after searching for hours, the boys returned to Josh’s house with high hopes that Tommy returned without them. A widespread search turns up no sign of the missing boy and Elizabeth quickly becomes convinced that Tommy is dead after she sees what she believes is her son’s ghost.  Mystifying happenings at home and eerie sightings around the neighborhood seem to corroborate her hunch, but startling entries from Tommy’s diary take the investigation in an unexpected direction that is quickly confirmed by new revelations from Josh and Luis during subsequent interviews.  Despite this new information, Tommy’s whereabouts remain a mystery and Elizabeth holds out hope that her son might still be alive.

Living in a small town where everyone seems to know everyone, Elizabeth has no reason to distrust Tommy or his eleven year old sister Kate.  Despite the shocking call in the middle of the night, she does not think anything sinister has happened to Tommy and initially, she assumes that her son is lost somewhere in the vast park.  After searching for hours, Elizabeth is exhausted when she sees what she believes is Tommy’s ghost and she is certain her son is dead.  However, within a few days, her despair turns to hope when pages from his diary begin mysteriously appearing and reports start pouring in about strange shadows appearing in townspeople’s windows late at night. 

Initially, the boys’ late night adventure in the state park appears to be nothing but a harmless escapade.  Tommy’s early diary entries are the first indication that the friends’ summer activities were not quite as innocent as their parents believed.  After the police re-interview Josh and Luis, alarming information begins to emerge about what the friends were doing in the Borderlands.  After Elizabeth finds the remainder of Tommy’s diary passages, the horrifying truth is finally revealed, but her hopes remain high that her son will be found alive.

Although a little slow-paced, Disappearance at Devil’s Rock is a spellbinding mystery that is impossible to put down.  The characters are multi-faceted and their reactions to the various situations are completely believable. The storyline is complex and multi-layered and Paul Tremblay masterfully keeps readers guessing whether Tommy’s disappearance is the result of supernatural forces or earthly foul play. A chilling, suspense-laden mystery that I highly recommend to fans of the genre.

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1 Comment

Filed under Contemporary, Disappearance at Devil's Rock, Mystery, Paul Tremblay, Review, Suspense, William Morrow

One Response to Review: Disappearance at Devil’s Rock by Paul Tremblay

  1. Timitra

    I like the sound of this…Thanks Kathy for the review