The Rowan Tree Inn has sat placidly under its thatched roof at the center of a picturesque forest village for centuries. "Has sat." That hits me wrong. I don't think there's anything incorrect about it, but... I know I don't like it. "Has satten" sounds better, but "satten" is not even a word. All right, I'm going to leave it. This book's not worth fussing over.
When fourteen-year-old Maya moves into the Inn with her parents and older brother, she experiences that same kind of unease. Disturbing visions, eviscerated foxes, and sinister townspeople seem to conspire with scary nighttime noises to keep her thoroughly freaked out. Is she psychic? Is she imagining things?
Buried Thunder is like an old-fashioned horror mystery for fans of Christopher Pike and Lois Duncan. It certainly takes advantage of every ominous rural cliche you can think of. EVERY ominous rural cliche. And you know what? I have a hard time believing that people are still buying the whole Is She Going Nuts Or Is Something Terrible Really Happening plotline. OF COURSE something terrible is happening. This is not Girl, Interrupted here.
In addition, the book is oddly bereft of both backstory and character development: we never discover why Maya's family has moved from London, or why her parents and brother are so supportive and protective of her. And the ending is straight out of Scooby Doo. STRAIGHT out of Scooby Doo. It's my policy not to give away the ending of YA novels because sometimes actual teens actually read reviews, but there is a MASK for crap's sake. "Why, it's Mr. Kerfluggins, the greedy real estate developer!" Except in Scooby Doo, once they have the ghost in handcuffs, they pull the sheet off right away. In Buried Thunder, that reveal is drawn out to an excruciating degree. WHO IS IT NOT THAT I CARE ANYMORE BUT JUST TELL ME.
And then there's the title - I almost never beat on a title because I know titling things is so hard. But come on - "Buried Thunder?" It sounds like a Will Ferrell movie about a champion bed-farter.
If reviews are meant to separate the wheat from the chaff - let me call it for you: this thing is chaff. But I am a horror reader from way back, and genre fans such as myself chew through a lot of chaff. Teens who can't get enough horror should go ahead and read this book. If nothing else, it'll make them appreciate Joe Hill's next book all the more.
Adapted from a review originally written for VOYA.