Gordon B. White
Trepidatio Publishing (October 15, 2021)
Reviewed by Ray Palen
A story about a global pandemic, written during a global pandemic, could not have been any more ideal a setting or impetus for a modern horror novel than Gordon B. White’s ROOKFIELD. Whenever I have had opportunity to interview an author over the past few years, one of the questions I always slip in there is whether or not the author feels a moral obligation to base their story during the pandemic because that is the current reality or if fiction is supposed to exist to provide readers with a world to provide us an escape from our reality.
More often than not, authors answer in the latter. Occasionally, you get those authors who stand by the fact that we cannot hide from what is going on outside our window (or, in some cases, inside our very homes) and it is obvious that this is the side of the fence where Gordon B. White stands on as ROOKFIELD is a brutal pandemic world that pulls no punches.
Cabot Howard is not going to let a little thing like a pandemic keep him from reuniting with his young son, Porter. Once the pandemic hit, Cabot’s ex-wife Leana took off with Porter for the backwoods town of Rookfield. Cabot makes his way to Rookfield and, even under the guise of a pandemic where no one is behaving normally, something is really not right there. All of the children are dressed like Plague Doctors of old British lore and the adults are in hiding.
Cabot is unable to confront his ex-wife directly, and his former in-laws will not allow him to see Porter or enter their home. The few adults Cabot is able to converse with all behave very oddly and urge him to leave Rookfield before nightfall. They are insistent everywhere about the ‘no mask, no entry’ policy, even though Cabot swears he sees store employees not following their own rules when off duty.
As he refuses to leave and digs deeper into just what exactly is going on behind closed doors in Rookfield, Cabot will find horrors even worse than what the pandemic purported to be capable of. Gordon B. White plays on our very nerves with ROOKFIELD and it is extremely effective—especially as we are living through our own pandemic which is a monster with many heads where you cut one off and a new and far more dangerous one seems to grow in its place. Well done!