Samhain Publishing is releasing another series of themed novellas, “Childhood Fears,” and the covers to these short books are very wicked looking. I was happy to dive into the series with “Scarecrows” by Christine Hayton.
When Robert woke one morning to find his young daughter missing from her bedroom, he immediately set out to find her. He could have never guessed what he was going to find. He discovered Cathy asleep in the cornfield covered in her friend’s blood and holding a small axe. Her friend’s mutilated body lay nearby. Cathy claimed to not have remembered anything but she is adamant about one thing: it was the scarecrows who killed her friend. Of course, no one believes this wild story and Cathy is put in a hospital for insane children.
Cathy knows that the scarecrows can hurt people even though no one will listen to her. She remains stuck in the hospital while the murdering scarecrows are free to continue their murderous ways. After a couple years, one doctor is finally willing to listen to her and believes that Cathy may not be guilty of the crime. As she begins to look into the mystery, she begins to uncover things that may best be left buried. Some secrets should never be uncovered and the scarecrows are not pleased.
I was curious about the direction that this story was going to take and, I have to admit, a little bit skeptical as I do not find scarecrows to be all that scary. I just was not sure that this book would be able to pack the punch that its creepy cover promised. I am happy to say that I was wrong. Hayton handles this story deftly and brings in several elements in a way that is impressive in a novella. This shorter story has the complexity of a novel and it is easy to see how the story could have easily been lost in the subplots. Hayton avoids this, however, and weaves a tale of terror that was able to drive a spike of fear into my heart.
“Scarecrows” is told from multiple perspective and in different periods of time yet Hayton keeps the story flowing smoothly and easy to follow. She plays up the supernatural elements of the story (possessed scarecrows?) and then pulls the rug out from under the reader’s feet just as the ending of the story seems certain. What is going on in the story? Are the scarecrows really to blame for the murders and disappearances that have plagued the area that they inhabit? The answer seems apparent and then it becomes complicated. In “Scarecrows,” Hayton crafts a genuinely scary and disturbing read that is sure to keep the reader on the edge of the seat. This is quite the good little scare and sets a great tone for the other novellas in the series.
I would like to thank Samhain Publishing and NetGalley for this advance review copy. “Scarecrows” is scheduled to be released in May.