I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Dead Eleven by Jimmy Juliano
Published by Dutton on June 27, 2023
Genres: Adult Horror, Adult Mystery
Source: the publisher
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On a creepy island where everyone has a strange obsession with the year 1994, a newcomer arrives, hoping to learn the truth about her son’s death–but finds herself pulled deeper and deeper into the bizarrely insular community and their complicated rules…
Clifford Island. When Willow Stone finds these words written on the floor of her deceased son’s bedroom, she’s perplexed. She’s never heard of it before, but soon learns it’s a tiny island off of Wisconsin’s Door County peninsula, 200 miles from Willow’s home. Why would her son write this on his floor? Determined to find answers, Willow sets out for the island.
After a few days on Clifford, Willow realizes: this place is not normal. Everyone seems to be stuck in a particular day in 1994: they wear outdated clothing, avoid modern technology, and, perhaps most mystifyingly, watch the OJ Simpson car chase every evening. When she asks questions, people are evasive, but she learns one thing: close your curtains at night.
High schooler Lily Becker has lived on Clifford her entire life, and she is sick of the island’s twisted mythology and adhering to the rules. She’s been to the mainland, and everyone is normal there, so why is Clifford so weird? Lily is determined to prove that the islanders’ beliefs are a sham. But are they?
Five weeks after Willow arrives on the island, she disappears. Willow’s brother Harper comes to Clifford searching for his sister, and when he learns the truth–that this island is far more sinister than anyone could have imagined–he is determined to blow the whole thing open.
This one sounded good when I first heard about it, so even though I don’t read a ton of this type of book anymore, I signed up for an advanced copy. And I ended up really enjoying it! While it is a little long, I know that is the way adult novels like this tend to be. And I do wish there had been a little bit more with the horror events actually shown on the pages of the book.
But, I liked how we got all the different viewpoints and aspects of the story told in methods such as regular fiction, interviews, letters, etc. It was easy to tell which character we were following along with at each chapter, not just because of the chapter headings, but also because the things in their lives or what they were doing was different enough to remind you who it was.
The idea of the island was definitely creepy. And I can’t imagine not blowing the whole thing wide open. But I get the reason that the people didn’t want to, even if it did sound crazy, it made sense. There was one point where I thought maybe the people on the island could have been behind Willow losing her son, but I think maybe that was just as it happened, and not quite as conspiracy seeming as certain details might have made it seem possible.
Definitely one I’m recommending to my family and friends who are Stephen King or Dean Koontz fans, although as I mentioned before, the horror could have used a bit more page time for my personal tastes.