Review

Black Creek Crossing

by John Saul



Let's take a moment and give thanks to John Saul. The dark fantasy
genre is somewhat similar to country music. Singers like Shania
Twain and the Vichy Chicks will come and feed at the trawl, get
fat, happy and successful, and turn their back on the genre. So,
too, with authors who make the monthly nut with dark fantasy, but
just long enough to get the notoriety and fortune to turn their
back on the genre that jump-started their careers. Saul continues,
in the words of Bear Bryant, to "dance with the one what brung
him," doing yeoman's work in the genre and doing it quite well,
thank you.


Saul's latest offering is BLACK CREEK CROSSING, and it has all of
the elements that make the genre, and Saul, great. You have the
Sullivan family, for one. The Sullivans are a family in crisis.
Marty is the alcoholic father who can hold a beer bottle longer
than he can a job. Myra is the clueless mother, using religion as a
crutch rather than as a tool of strength and fortitude in an
imperfect world. And then there is Angel, the not quite pretty
13-year-old daughter, trying to rid herself of the invisible "kick
me" sign that is psychically hung around her neck.


When an opportunity comes for a fresh start in a different town,
the Sullivans jump at the chance. Roundtree, Massachusetts seems to
be the answer to all of their problems --- a new school for Angel,
a new job for Marty and a new house that they can buy at a below
market price. The house, located at Black Creek Crossing, has some
history to it. It seems that the last family who lived there --- a
husband, wife and teenage daughter --- experienced a bit of a
tragedy, to wit, the murder of the wife and daughter by the
husband. This does not deter the Sullivans. Almost from the minute
they move in, though, things begin to go amiss. Marty is having
trouble on the job and Angel immediately becomes a target at
school.


Angel is soon befriended by Seth Baker, another social outcast who
has much in common with her. She also finds a black cat --- or
maybe the cat finds her --- that seems able to enter and leave her
house at will. The discovery of a mysterious, ancient book in the
Sullivans' new home sets Angel and Seth down a path that appears to
lead to their salvation. There is, however, a terrible price to pay
in the end.


While BLACK CREEK CROSSING has many elements that will be familiar
to longtime fans of the dark fantasy genre, it will most certainly
appeal to those readers who are just beginning to encounter the
genre and, by definition, Saul's work. Saul's ultimate strength in
BLACK CREEK CROSSING, however, is his ability to explore the world
of adolescent angst, to get into those areas where the triple
gratings of school, friends and family rub the skin of the psyche
raw. Saul writes like someone who has been there and remembers it
all too well, even if it was decades ago. It is this ability
coupled with Saul's masterful storytelling that make him, and BLACK
CREEK CROSSING, worth reading.


   










Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on December 22, 2010

Black Creek Crossing
by John Saul

  • Publication Date: March 16, 2004
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books
  • ISBN-10: 0345433327
  • ISBN-13: 9780345433329