The Toll by Cherie Priest
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Don't go driving into the Okenfenokee Swamp when it's dark. That was the first mistake that Titus and Melanie Bell made. Not paying attention and turning around when things get a unfamiliar and weird was their second. As a result, Melanie goes missing and Titus winds up in the town of Staywater, filled with odd folks that don't always give him a straight answer. Two of the odd folks are a pair of spinster grandmothers and their godson Cameron. It all makes for a great set up for a creepy Southern Gothic horror story.
Cherie Priest knows creepy and she keeps ramping up that factor, with a friendly ghost in the local bar, an abandoned house full of dolls and a other oddities. But the story feels too rambly and repetative and lacks tension. It's mostly Titus not getting any answers and Cameron puzzling about his lot in life. Either the book should be shorter or the various back and side stories need expansion and depth. When everyone finally starts taking action toward the end, it finally feels like a real story and comes to a reasonable finish.
I found this to be an easy, entertaining, but a little frustrating read.
Disclosure: Thank you to Netgalley and Tor Books for providing a free copy of this book in return for my honest review.
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