Something happened in the town of Widowsfield in 1996. The whole town seemingly disappeared, except for Alma Harper and her father. Alma has no recollection of it and has spent years trying to forget it altogether. However, when two reporters looking to make a ghost hunting show start asking questions, she decides it’s time to go back. But the Skeleton Man is still there, and is waiting for her.
This was a genuinely creepy (and occasionally gross) book. The story divides itself between the horrors that occurred in Widowsfield in 1996 and Alma dealing with the fall out in the present. Wise writes creepy well, and only reveals what is happening very slowly. The horror and tension continue to build as the story goes on, and the worst part is that you don’t really have any answers at the end, only more questions. I love that.
The reason it only got three stars from me on Goodreads is that the parts with Alma and her new friends don’t really ring true. I mean, some of it does, especially when we realize what Alma went through after she returned from Widowsfield in dealing with her drug addict father and increasingly insane mother. However, her interactions with the two reporters and her boyfriend don’t seem quite real. The two reporters (they are forgettable enough that I can’t even remember their names) spend the book throwing money away, trying to manipulate everyone, and sniping at one another, because they are terrible people. Alma and her boyfriend spend the book declaring their lustful obsession with one another to be TRUE LOVE. If it felt like they really loved one another it would make the ending a bit more satisfying, but Paul blatantly lies to Alma about something that bothers her after placing the burden of restarting their relationship entirely on her, and Alma appears to be attached to him only because she has self-esteem issues.
Wise also has an unfortunate tendency to overuse the word “slut” and depict all women as being catty and jealous. (Seriously, we have some grade-A YA novel hypocritical slut shaming going on. Alma wants to have sex and makes herself look sexy-this is good. Another woman does the same thing. WHAT A SLUT HOW DARE SHE.) This amount of stupidity was a severe distraction and really detracted from the atmosphere of the book. It’s one thing to have real characters with real neuroses. It’s another thing entirely to have stereotypes. (LIKE THE SUPER INCREDIBLY GAY HAIRDRESSER. Who, by the way, also uses the word “slut” profusely. Seriously, this isn’t high school.)
Overall, I'm torn on whether or not I want to read the rest of the series. The mystery itself intrigues me, but dealing with a bunch of annoying characters might be more than I feel like dealing with.