Paperback, 276 pages, $7.99
Review by Sheila Merritt
Nate Kenyon’s sophomore novel, The Reach, is publicized as being a horror novel “in the vein” of Firestarter and Carrie. With all due respect to Stephen King, there is another author’s work that clearly has influenced Kenyon’s book: John Farris’ The Fury. Kenyon melds concepts that occur in all three novels, yet makes a story that is uniquely his own. He accomplishes this, in part, by fine characterization of all the female characters.
The premise is: Jess Chambers, a graduate student in psychology, is brought in by her mentor, Dr. Jean Shelley, to evaluate an unusual case. The patient under evaluation is Sarah, a ten year old who exhibits some signs of extreme schizophrenia. Jess is appalled when she first meets the girl, since the child is under intense medication, and physical restraints. In her observations, Jess comes to realize that schizophrenia is not the real issue; Sarah has enormous paranormal abilities. Make that: Extremely dangerous paranormal abilities.
Jess manages to emotionally break through and bond with Sarah, but there are others involved who want to use the child for their own gain and power. There is a great deal of action; car chases, telekinetic destruction, and shifts in loyalties that could give the reader whiplash. The story is also peppered with some scientific babble to give some verisimilitude to the plotline. What the writer does best, however, is the female characters who all are extremely well drawn. Nate Kenyon clearly knows his women (and Sarah, who is pre-adolescent) and imbues them with layers of complexity. Even the women who are on the periphery of the tale are multi-dimensional and interesting.
Kenyon’s first novel, Bloodstone, was nominated for the 2007 Bram Stoker Award. The Reach confirms his place as a gifted horror writer.