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Jack J. Carroll ‘Atavus Falls’ Review

Written by: Myra Gabor

All families are dysfunctional. They’re basically made up of two adult strangers trying to make a life together while bringing up kids. The kids manage to grow up. Most are functional and even thrive. Some withdraw into themselves, into a protective selfishness. A few become savages.

Atavus Falls tells the story of some of these kids and their families, each with his own point of view. (By the way, Atavus means “ancestor” – four times great grandfather. Again, a reference to family).

First we meet Jackson. His parents fight a lot. Slanging and slugging each other and his little brother. Jackson is very protective of his little brother. But when push comes to shove, he may favor self preservation above all.

Jocelyn is the mother of Jackson and his little brother, Freddy.  She embraces Mother Nature as a means of renewal. That and her pills and her bottles of wine. Even as she runs away with her two children from her abusive husband, she revels in the thought that the air, sunlight and trees are cleansing them of all the bad things of the past. She clings to hope, chemically induced sleep and liquor.

Shattuck. Lost in his own thoughts, his egomania comes shining through. He’s mentioned frequently as the mad doctor.

Jimmy is the town idiot. He knows who or what is in the woods, thinks it’s God, but barely has the words to express himself.

Something is in the woods killing people who venture in. The townspeople and the Sheriff have convinced themselves that it is a rabid animal.

We slowly find out who or what is doing the killing. Very slowly. And that’s the problem. This is not a horror story. It’s not even a thriller. It is a mystery, even though it’s not much of that either. It is well written, but you have to be into POV stories. Although the author tries to keep up the suspense and keep us guessing, ultimately it is an exercise in philosophy – thoughts of the human condition. Not a good idea for a book about horror, wherein tension should be paramount.

I liked that the B characters are well developed. There’s Tracy, Justin, Will, Lisa and more. They go on and on. Even though they may only appear for a short time, each one has his own voice. But there’s a problem there. Each chapter jumps between each character’s point of view which gets to be hard to follow. The author keeps introducing new characters and we can figure out who they are only after several pages of reading & rereading.

The story is well written, even though for me it dragged, but you could do a lot worse than read this one.

Order it here.

Rating: 4/5

atavus falls

About The Overseer (1669 Articles)
Author of Say No to Drugs, writer for Blumhouse, Dread Central, Horror Novel Reviews and Addicted to Horror Movies.

1 Comment on Jack J. Carroll ‘Atavus Falls’ Review

  1. It requires a lot of effort to balance character vs story, tension vs atmosphere and then spice it all with originality, mystery and twists. Few can do it. I enjoyed the review. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

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