Rating - ⭐⭐⭐⭐
"It knows your fear...
Summer, 1989. Four best friends—Gabe, Kimberly, Charlie, and Sonya—are preparing for their last summer together before senior year, after which they’ll all be splitting up to start college in different parts of the country. They make a promise to always find their way back to each other, no matter how far away from their sleepy Pennsylvania hometown they get.
But their plans are destroyed when a plane crashes right on top of their favorite hangout outside of town—and right on top of them.
In the catastrophic aftermath of the incident, Gabe, Sonya and Charlie are plagued by eerie visions and messages from an unknown watcher. They soon realize that the plane crash was no accident, and now they are being hunted by a sinister presence. And everyone is still searching for Kimberly, who has been missing ever since Gabe saw somebody wearing a gas mask carry her out of the woods the day the sky fell down on them."
Dagger Hill is a standalone YA horror novel by Devon Taylor.
This book only has 85 ratings and 36 reviews on Goodreads...and I find that criminal. I had a good time reading this and hope that more people pick this up.
It took the 'small town, strange occurrences' storyline, and did a good job at creating something both new and immersive.
Let's get into the details.
I have a couple of issues when it comes to the writing. When the story would shift to a perspective that was not one of the main ones, it would be written completely italicized. I found that it was just slightly hard to read those sections.
Other than that though, I flew right through this book.
I would like to make a note though that this book can be considered mixed-media, as it does include interview transcripts at times.
This was a wild ride all the way through. We follow a group of friends who are in the wrong place at the wrong time and end up right in the middle of a tragedy which results in one of their friends missing.
The story starts in a really good place that already sets the mood and sets the bar high and then escalates the tension and atmosphere from there. I liked the way that the story is not always what it seems to be, which just added another layer.
There were some gaps in the story that I would have liked to see filled, only to simply have more story. The ending is also a bit open-ended which is never something I like but I can deal with because everything that came beforehand makes up for it. It also tried to pull one last punch which wasn't really needed.
My only other complaint about the story would be the sudden shift in perspectives which I both liked and didn't like. Liked because it showed what was happening to other people outside of the main characters, and didn't because it was unexpected and felt a bit out of place.
As for my final remark, it is something that I just don't personally like to read about in books which did hinder my enjoyment of this a little bit. When it comes to any horror or thriller novel, you know that religious or government figures are never up to any good. That is the case here because Higgins had an agenda and needed to go.
Right off the bat, this book already had a head start because the four main characters are depicted on the cover. That earns huge bonus points from me because I was then able to easily picture them as I read.
Now, as for the character themselves, we follow the four members of the 'Almost Nobodies' - Gabe, Charlie, Sonya and Kimberly. I found that all four of them were distinct from each other and were fleshed out well enough. What I liked about these characters, besides a few lapses of logic, was that they were smart. Instead of bumbling their way through the situation, they thought about their actions and the possible consequences.
What I would have liked to see though, was more from Kimberly. Since she went missing early on in the book, we don't get her perspective. I think it would have been interesting to see her side of things as it would have added a different angle to the story.
As a side note, this book does include mentions of a sapphic romance and features a character who is (possibly) pan which is nice to see.
I think that the synopsis hit it out of the park by saying that fans of Stranger Things were going to enjoy it. A small town with a private government installation on the outskirts and unexplained things happening - it sure does sound similar. Despite having a similar premise though, this still felt new and really enjoyable to read.