Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Henry Franks by Peter Adam Salomon

Who—or what—is Henry Franks?  This is the question that permeates Henry Franks, the forthcoming first novel by Peter Adam Salomon.

What we know is what Henry himself knows.  He’s an outcast in his school in Georgia near the border with Florida.  He’s horribly scarred from a car accident that killed his mother and left him comatose and nearly dead.  And he remembers nothing: everything he knows about his life before he woke up from the coma is what his father has related to him.  Also, he keeps having these dreams about murdering people.

Henry is determined to learn the truth about himself and his accident.  His doctor father is distant and ignores all of his questions, preferring to push pharmaceuticals to help Henry through his problems.  When his father is out of the house, Henry searches for clues to their previous life.  With the help of his neighbor and classmate Justine (the only person in school who isn’t horrified by the scars that cover him from the neck down), he starts finding things that might help him learn the truth.  But is the truth something he’ll actually want to learn?  And isn’t there a hurricane on its way? And what does any of this have to do with the string of mysterious murders in the area?

Henry Franks is a terrific work of teen-lit horror.  The twists pile up in the last chapters to an enormous degree, and if some of them are more than a little apparent early in the book (the title is a clue to one, and another borrows from more than one horror film involving transplanted body parts), others are thoroughly surprising, and the epilogue is a twisted little marvel.  If the book isn’t a work of genius, it more than admirably succeeds in its tasks of being  scary and compulsively readable, and I look entirely forward to whatever Salomon has in store next.

(Note: the copy of Henry Franks that I read was an electronic galley I got via NetGalley.  The publication   date is September 8th.  Also, I have corresponded with the author by email, primarily on the subject of contemporary musical theatre.)

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