The CSFF Blog Tour's June feature is Vanish by Tom Pawlik. It's his debut novel, but readers wouldn't know it. It's a humdinger of a tale, and even gave me the creeps in a couple scenes, but that's not a bad thing. Not a bad thing at all. Many stories -- and movies -- that promise the weird and the creepy often descend into gore, or telegraph scares that end up being un-scary, or become just plain cheesy in sad, laughable attempts to keep the audience on the edge of their seats.
Mr. Pawlik had my attention from the get-go, and he didn't lose it, not even on the last page, with its ironic and darkly humorous ending. In fact, I would have kept reading to find out what happened to other characters -- a good story can't be long enough -- and, turns out, there is more: the sequel, Valley of the Shadow, is out this month.
Back to Vanish: Connor Hayden, a lawyer in Chicago, goes throughout the workday with the strange sensation that he's being watched. Later that night, he watches an unusual storm front approach. He wakens the next morning to a deserted city in which he appears to be the last inhabitant.
The same occurs for an aging former model, a couple of street kids with guns, and a young man on his way to propose to his girlfriend. They all wake up in an empty world, yet they come together through a variety of circumstances, and form a band of survivors trying to elude the strange grey "aliens" whose touch burns even as it chills.
I'm not one for stories of space aliens, but -- if you're like me -- don't let this brief synopsis turn you away from an awesome story. In the desolate, desperate world of Vanish, all is not as it seems.
Read the first chapter here, and then buy the book and read the whole thing. Betcha can't stop!
Other points of view:
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
Todd Michael Greene
Rebecca LuElla Miller
John W. Otte
Donita K. Paul
Rachel Starr Thomson