I am not the fastest reader so it usually takes me a few weeks to plow through a book. In the case of Wildwood Road (Christopher Golden) I was able to finish it in a mere six days. This was a nice change of pace — a novel that tells its story without any real padding. The downside is the experience almost felt too brief and a bit perfunctory.
It tells the tale of a nigh-perfect couple living in Boston and how a few too many drinks at a masquerade party leads to nearly running down a mysterious little girl on a quiet night road. From there things get weird as Michael the guilty husband tries to set things right by taking her home — a ramshackle old house on top of a hill that seems to be haunted by…things. These ghosty creatures do a number on Jillian the wife to scare off the husband from pursuing matters further. More to the point they turn her into Ultra Bitch, which is kind of fun to watch. Golden does a good job in making her a wildly unpredictable force and I was actually fooled — whether by design or not — by a scene in which a friend is asked to ‘babysit’ her, the outcome of which I hadn’t predicted. I was less convinced by the depiction of memories as physical things you can pluck from the air as they float by.
Oh, and the little girl, she wore a peasant blouse and blue jeans. I remember this because Golden mentions it approximately five thousand times over the course of the novel.
The story is both told with economy and at the same time the omniscient voice is perhaps a little too all-seeing as it hops from character to character. There is very little for the reader to work out form himself as everything gets neatly explained in time. In a way it’s nice to not have things remain murky just for the sake of conjuring up an atmosphere of mystery, but a little more subtlety would have worked, too.
Overall this was a fast, enjoyable but unremarkable read, a novel I would describe as solidly good.