This week I read Point Pleasant by Jen Archer Wood. A thrilling horror/spec fic novel with a gay romance side plot. Ahead is a spoiler free review of the book, so enjoy.
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There’s something in the woods of Point Pleasant, West Virginia…
Ben Wisehart grew up in the idyllic town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. An early encounter with the supernatural shaped his worldview and served as the catalyst for his career as a bestselling horror writer.
Ben left Point Pleasant at the age of twenty. Thirteen years after abandoning his home, he returns to the town to investigate the apparent reemergence of the terrifying creature responsible for his childhood nightmares.
In Point Pleasant, Ben is confronted not only by the town’s resident monster, the Mothman, but also by his former best friend, Sheriff Nicholas Nolan.
Together, Ben and Nicholas uncover the mystery of the monster in the woods and discover that the ghosts that haunt us are sometimes made of flesh and blood.
And sometimes, they lead us home.
Reviewing the prose
Point Pleasant by Jen Archer Wood inspired me. It was one of those books that sticks with you that when you finish at last and climb under the covers after a late night reading session. It was creepy, beautiful, romantic, stunning. Every word was chosen with purpose. The suspense built up so achingly slowly that you were on your toes the entire time.
I was absolutely heart broken to find that the author, Jen Archer, has written nothing since publishing Point Pleasant in 2015. She has since vanished entirely from the internet, which is really sad to hear because her talent was extraordinary and I was hoping to see more from her.
There just isn’t enough gay romances with a seriously good plot on the side. Even less horror ones that I’ve found. Point Pleasant is a really good contribution to both these genres.
Wood pulls you from the first paragraph, opening with a flashback. From there, she keeps the mystery stacking up. However, she gives us a little bit resolution and let the tension soften half way through the book. Horror, I feel, is better when short and snappy. I’m glad she didn’t drag on a single plot point through the entire book.
Instead, the heroes need to solve the mystery for the second half. The author does a great job of this, while keeping up the suspense for other reasons entirely. I could’ve seen it being revealed more piecemeal however. We kind of get the whole explanation very quickly. Something more bite sized would’ve been perfect
I also felt that Nicholas was a bit out of character in one or two spots for the purpose of causing plot drama. I honestly always felt more interested in Ben than him, and a bit more personal time with Nicholas would’ve been good.
Reviewing the worldbuilding
Because this is the Sorcerer of Tea, we need to chat worldbuilding. Point Pleasant does a really good job of building up the setting of a small Virginia town with a haunting it doesn’t want to face. The cast of characters give a lot of colour to this world. I personally feel that urban fantasy/modern horror can be a little hard to worldbuild in. You have a lot less freedom to work with.
However Jen did succeed there. I would’ve liked to have seen more mystery about certain parts of the mythology of Point Pleasant retained. At least until later in the book. Everything got revealed just a bit too quickly for my taste. But in the whole, it did work out for the plot and created a very vibrant setting. If you can call a town haunted by unspeakable horrors vibrant.
I’d give Point Pleasant a 8/10 overall. The main downsides I saw were being a bit quick to reveal the mystery, and some slips on characterisation for the love interest. I thoroughly enjoyed this book overall.