Reviewed by Donna
TITLE: The Night Screams
AUTHOR: Devon McCormack
PUBLISHER: Harmony Ink
LENGTH: 238 Pages
RELEASE DATE: July 28, 2016
After Cal escapes a deranged kidnapper who tortured him, he doesn’t even have the clothes on his back. Desperate and afraid, he breaks into a convenience store. But Jake, a clerk at the store, confronts what to him is little more than a petty thief. After a violent tussle, he knocks Cal out.
Jake encourages his Uncle Gary, the owner of the store, to report Cal to the police, but Gary can’t bring himself to report a kid who was just looking to steal food. When Cal wakes, Gary asks him if he’s okay. But Cal’s trauma has left him mute. Instead, he has to write his experiences down, relaying the horrifying events that led him to the store. The police track down the sick man who held Cal captive, and when he confronts them with a gun, he’s shot dead. However, Cal discovers that even with his captor gone, he is far from free of the nightmare he endured.
Gary and his wife welcome Cal into their home, determined to help him heal. Jake doesn’t trust Cal, and he isn’t afraid to say so. But buried beneath Jake’s disapproval might be the person who can help Cal recover from the terrifying experience that continues to haunt him.
Well honestly, I just don’t know. I feel like I just read two completely different stories fused into one book. I have a feeling that readers will either love The Night Screams or hate it, but somehow, miraculously, I think the author pulled this off. And I’m one of the ones that loved it.
The story begins with an unnamed, panicked, disoriented teen running through the nighttime woods. The author instantly transported us to a very dark place, as we quickly learn that the boy, Cal, has just escaped a man who kept him chained in a shed, raping and torturing him for weeks.
Nothing was inappropriate for a young adult to read, the rape and torture had all taken place off page before the story began, but I was wondering why this would have been classified as a young adult romance, besides the fact that our main character is a teenager. But then what followed this troubling beginning was a teen romance of the mushy, fairytale-esque, I-believe-these-kids-will-have-their-HEA variety. For the most part it was as though that tortured start to the story had minimal, if any, bearing on the events that followed. The perfect Jake rode in on his white horse and the world was rosy again. Then into the mix the author tosses a funeral, a wedding, a prom, and some homophobic violence and I realize I’m making this story sound like a big old mess, and I think it should have been. But what impressed me most about this story was that it’s not a mess. It all worked together in some weirdly wonderful way that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Besides the ups and downs of the plot, I think it was the secondary characters that made this story great. Gary and Luce were brilliant as stand in parents for Jake and Cal. They were created to be perfectly flawed and the funeral scene got me tearier than any recollections of Cal’s torture ever managed to. Jake’s, and ultimately Cal’s friends, were also well utilized to highlight just how unused to a normal childhood Cal was.
The ending of the book brought everything round full circle, and delivered the happy ending that Cal and Jake deserved.
When I say that I think readers will either love or hate this book, it’s because I have a feeling that the talk of torture and kidnapping in the blurb will draw readers who may not tend to like young adult stories. And then, others who prefer to read young adult may be surprised by the level of torture we’re talking (but again, it’s off page.) But if you’re prepared to find both of those things in the one story, then hopefully you’ll enjoy The Night Screams just as much as I did.