On Parson’s Creek by Richard Sutton

On Parson’s Creek by Richard Sutton
Publisher: Saille Tales Books
Genre: Young Adult, Suspense/Mystery, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Historical
Length: Full Length (204 pages)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

A new teenager in a small, Oregon logging town, Jack Taylor’s bored with school and living in his own head. Walking in the forest, he finds dark mysteries in an old-growth cedar grove near his new home. The story handed down several generations doesn’t tell the tale completely, nor do tales of lurking giants in the trees, an Indian curse, or the abandoned locomotive deep in the woods. As he asks questions of his teachers and local families, he finds himself pushed more and more into a corner from which there is only one way out. With the reluctant help of a local historian, his Physics teacher, a school friend and an ancient logger almost as old as the trees, he begins to put the clues together. The story unravels a community conspiring to hide the entire truth from the world. But, is that wrong? Maybe the world doesn’t need to know.

Sometimes sleepy towns hold big secrets.

The mystery elements are strong in in this book. Jack discovers a handful of clues about what might be going in in the woods early on, but Mr. Sutton doles the rest of them out sparingly. This technique worked well for the setting, especially once the community’s tendency to isolate itself from the outside world is explained. I don’t know if the author has any intention of writing a sequel, but I’d be interested in reading it if he decides to do so. There is still a lot of unexplored territory in this universe.

It would have been helpful to know more about the personalities and quirks of the characters. Their appearances and occupations are described in detail, but I wasn’t able to figure out much else about any of them. I would have liked to know who was gregarious, shy, talkative, or stubborn. The pacing, plot, and themes were all well done. It was only the lack of character development that held this book back from a higher rating.

Mr. Sutton has a smooth writing style that lured me into the plot immediately. The narrator shares his tale a long time after it took place, so some scenes felt a little more polished than I would have expected from a character who had experienced them recently. This technique worked well for this particular series of events, though, due to how much time the author spent working his way up to the most interesting parts of Jack’s discovery.

I’d recommend On Parson’s Creek to adult readers and older teens alike. This is the kind of novel that can easily cross the threshold between these audiences.

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