I love the horror genre, but sometimes I’m desensitized to things that frighten the average person… because I’ve read and watched SO MUCH horror. That being said, Plank Children was a fun dose of fright, and it was not without its scares.
The story begins with broken-hearted Miles, who has recently suffered the loss of his 15-year-old nephew, Ian, whom he considers more of a son than a nephew. On top of that, he has just gone through a break-up with his long time boyfriend, Jeremy, and lost his job as well. Miles feels that his life and his mood can’t get any lower, but oh, if he only knew what was in store for him!
While scrolling social media, Miles comes across a picture of his sister, Minnie, her husband, and their dead son, but the picture does not appear to be old. Certain aspects of the photo suggest this shot was taken recently. But how?
When Miles confronts his sister, she suggests that Ian didn’t really die. They had wrongly identified the body. Minnie insists that Ian is now staying in an all-boys school called St. Hameline’s. And when Miles sets out on a mission to photograph the abandoned St. Hameline’s building and prove to Minnie it’s all in her head, he finds himself tangled in a mystery, one that stinks of rot, torture, and corruption.
This novels moves forward at a nice, steady pace. The amount of foreshadowing early on for events which occur later in the story show this author’s careful planning, slowly unfolding a layered plot. There are a few truly creepy scenes. See, the title “Plank Children” refers to the deceased children who were propped up by planks and photographed when post-mortem photograohy was common. That, alone, is enough to induce a good case of the willies.
Schutz’s skillful use of creative descriptors, his ability to build real tension in a dark and horrifying setting, and his attention to detail are what makes this novel shine. The reader gets to know each character and feel their pain. You can feel Miles’s utter panic and fear as he gets caught outside in the relentless blizzard that has snowed him in to this world of ghosts and secrets and considers just freezing to death rather than going back inside.
I recommend Plank Children to any horror fan. It was a good one. Read it and you won’t be disappointed.