A God in the Shed by J-F. Dubeau is a chilling paranormal thriller about a small town and a powerful, evil god that wreaks havoc among its citizens.
This turned out to be one of my favorite reads of 2017. Author J-F. Dubeau brings a unique and intriguing tale ripe with small-town folks and long-term secrets that have entrapped the locals for centuries, all revolving around a sinister serial killer that has terrorized the community. And now it's up to a teenage girl to save them all.
Venus McKenzie is a 15-year-old girl with an interesting life. Her parents are New Age types that had only recently moved back to the quaint town of Saint-Ferdinand. They feel that the more freedom their daughter is given, the more she will become a strong, independent young person. This doesn’t sound so bad until Venus begins to harbor resentment due mainly to the bullying she is receiving from jealous schoolmates.
Venus was no stranger to the bizarre occurrences Saint-Ferdinand could serve up. She wasn’t originally from the village, having only moved there with her family a little over four years prior. To its residents, the little town seemed so normal, but through the eyes of a girl who’d spent most of her life living in the suburbs of Montreal, every little quirk and eccentricity stood out. It had taken her a while to figure out how deep the idiosyncrasies went, and after a few years she’d simply given up. There seemed to be no end to how weird the little village truly was.
For over 20 years, Saint-Ferdinand has been plagued by death. It’s become so commonplace that the locals have developed ways to cope with the ever-present threat around them. Early in the book, the police think they have caught their guy when the town’s most eccentric character, Sam Finnegan, is revealed to have a number of dead and mutilated bodies on his property. But what nobody is focusing on is the even more grisly scene back in the woods that Finnegan has staged, complete with eyeballs stuck on poles that all face an ominous cave at the base of an old tree. It turns out that these eyes were keeping something in there.
Something very ancient and very evil. A god of hate and death that eats human souls.
And now it’s loose.
Inspector Stephen Crowley is widely known in town for his hot-headed and violent temper. He’s a single dad to Daniel, who is a good kid in his own right. But Crowley—and other influential citizens—is also part of a long-standing club that not only knows about the god in the cave but also wants to capture it to do their bidding.
They keep Finnegan locked up as a scapegoat so they can find the god and use it to grant their wishes with its supernatural powers—but those wishes come at a terrible price. It’s a dangerous game they play, and with no one keeping the god at bay, there are more gruesome deaths as they scramble to find it.
Thankfully, there is help in the form of a ghost. Little Audrey, a local girl who was frail since birth and dearly loved by all, succumbed to her health problems in the middle of this mess. Her soul is spared when the local medical examiner—who also knows a bit of necromancy—performs a ritual on her dead body that anchors her here so that her soul cannot be eaten. It’s Audrey’s help and guidance that truly make a difference.
She was a tiny little thing, with alabaster skin and pale ivory hair. She was wearing her Sunday best, but her feet were bare. Crude iron nails had been driven through the milky flesh and into the ground beneath her. Similar nails had been rammed into her eye sockets. In her arms she held a stuffed bear with a bright red felt hat.
As Gabrielle stared in stunned silence, the apparition spoke one more time. They were the same words as before, but she could now make them out clearly: “Run away…”
Venus happens upon the god by accident. She set up a video camera in the shed behind their house because a bird had a nest and she wanted to document it. It is through this lens that she sees the god, and it is also this lens that holds it in place due to some unnatural law.
Suddenly the shadow stopped, as if it had run up against some invisible wall. It writhed and swirled like smoke caught in the wind, yet refused to disperse. At the edge of her hearing, Venus could barely perceive screams of fury, strong in their anger but dim, as if coming from inside a grave. The shadow focused its eyes on her once more, and the screams vanished. For a tense moment, she considered that perhaps she had indeed fallen asleep upstairs and was now having a nightmare.
Then it spoke.
The voice that came out of the shade was like nothing Venus had heard before. Both beautiful and terrible at once, it could be compared to a heavenly chorus chanting from within a cave inhabited by a hundred thousand bats. It echoed majestically, while tearing at the soul with voracious hunger.
The symbol of an elaborate and decorative eye is found all over town, and it plays a big part in the mystery. An old acquaintance of the god comes back to town to finish what has been started, and it takes all of them together to stop it.
The god itself is intriguing and casts such a huge web over the entire town and its occupants, one that is centuries old. I would love to know more about this creature. Dubeau is a talented storyteller, and fans of horror, thrillers, and mysteries would all find something to sate their thirst in this book.
There’s plenty of gore and tense, creepy moments. There’s also a look at the supernatural and what might lie across the veil as we travel there with the characters. The ending is left open to easily allow a sequel. I’m going to keep my eyes open and wait and see what’s to come.
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Amber Keller is a writer who delves into dark, speculative fiction, particularly horror and suspense/thrillers. You can find her work on her Amazon Author Page and she also features many short stories on Diary of a Writer. A member of the Horror Writers Association, she contributes to many websites and eMagazines and you can follow her on Twitter @akeller9.