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Christopher is seven years old. Christopher is the new kid in town. Christopher has an imaginary friend.

Single mother Kate Reese is on the run. Determined to improve life for her and her son, Christopher, she flees an abusive relationship in the middle of the night with Christopher at her side. Together, they find themselves drawn to the tight-knit community of Mill Grove, Pennsylvania. It’s as far off the beaten track as they can get. Just one highway in, one highway out.

At first, it seems like the perfect place to finally settle down. Then Christopher vanishes. For six awful days, no one can find him. Until Christopher emerges from the woods at the edge of town, unharmed but not unchanged. He returns with a voice in his head only he can hear, with a mission only he can complete: Build a tree house in the woods by Christmas, or his mother and everyone in the town will never be the same again.

Soon Kate and Christopher find themselves in the fight of their lives, caught in the middle of a war playing out between good and evil, with their small town as the battleground.

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This book was pretty damn fantastic. From the very first page I was hooked. I read nearly two hundred pages before I even looked up. It was an amazing start. There was an amazing middle. Then the last 50-75 pages was just awful.

I try not to hold endings against the book. It is so hard to have a satisfying ending. I was so emotionally invested in this book. There was so much I loved and I couldn’t put it down. So this ending just felt like a betrayal and a cop out. Seriously. Deus ex machina to the extreme. That took a star and a half off the book. If the book would have stopped before the explanation of who everyone supposedly was and how all the magic really worked, then I would have been happy to round this up to five stars and call it a day.

The other big issue I had with the book was that yet again childhood sexual assault was something used against young female characters. I am so tired of men thinking that rape is the only plot that women can have. Stop. Just no. On that note, Kate was literally just The Mother. That was her whole role in the book. For a while, I thought she was getting fleshed out into her own character, but no. She wasn’t. The ending killed another character and reduced her down to a single role.

The way the book was written was wonderful. Though the wild capitalization at the end from The Nice Man was just over the top. If it hadn’t already been used as a code, it would have been wonderfully stylistic. Since the code had just been revealed when it started, it just felt like overkill and unimaginative.

So despite loving this book for almost seven hundred pages, it was only a three star. It was scary. I was recommending it to everyone after the first two hundred pages. There was a gap of 50-75 pages where everything was going perfectly, but it was making my anxiety spike. I felt like I was going to have a panic attack by the end. It was so beautifully written and showed a real mastery of horror and suspense. But that ending. I have never hated an ending as much as I hated this one. It wasn’t because the ending wasn’t what I wanted, it was just bad. It was rushed and forced. There was just so much I hated about it. I will be ranting about this if I don’t stop myself now.

Just try this one. It might be an amazing read for you. The ending may not leave a terrible taste in your mouth like it did me.

Content warnings for the book: graphic suicide, sexual assault of children, graphic child abuse, graphic domestic violence, alcoholism, religious abuse, drug abuse, death…pretty much if you have a trigger, don’t read this one.

3 out of 5 stars. I would maybe recommend this book.

You can buy the book here.

~Isaiah