Black River Orchard

Del Rey: Ballantine. Sept. 2023. 640p. ISBN 9780593158746. $29.99. HORROR
This is a gripping horror story that brings new meaning to “forbidden fruit.” The novel follows a handful of very different characters—a teen influencer, an ambitious father, the reluctant housewife, and a haunted Quaker—who are thrust together by circumstance while they fight to survive. At the heart of it all is the ominous apple orchard in Harrow, PA. All it takes is one bite from these mysterious apples, and their lives are changed forever. They transform into their better selves, but at a terrible cost. This story is a ruthlessly disturbing parasitic nightmare that expertly delves into the dark mythology behind the apple, which has long been held as a symbol of temptation. The characters are easy to both love and hate, and it’s terrifying to witness how a small town gradually crumbles into chaos and the worst in people simmers to the surface. Characterization and atmosphere are this novel’s strengths, but it also integrates Indigenous folklore, historical apple hunters, secret societies, and ancient curses.
VERDICT Insatiable, passionate, weird, and creepy, Wendig’s latest (after Wayward) is perfect for those who appreciate the slow-burning horror tomes of Stephen King and Robert McCammon.
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