Will Besting and six other teens were cured of their phobias at Fort Eden by the mysterious—and often quietly terrifying—Rainsford. But while the cure took away their phobias, it left them with other ailments: headaches, loss of hearing, fatigue. It also left Will with an intense need to know more about their supposed savior and his twisted methods. Now Will has discovered a file he was never supposed to see, and the story contained within involves characters he never expected to see together. What will the phantom file reveal about Rainsford's ghoulish ways?
With a contemporary nod to classic horror, Patrick Carman's Dark Eden: Phantom File takes readers on a journey to discover the origins of a madman's reign—and of fear itself.
Carman (the Skeleton Creek series) continues to play with the integration of print and digital media, crafting a competent but slow thriller about seven teens with serious phobias who have been sent to a last-ditch facility to help them conquer their fears. Rainsford, the man at the head of Fort Eden, uses painful, high-tech aversion therapy that works but leaves its subjects with debilitating side effects that he insists will wear off. Agoraphobic 15-year-old Will Besting takes an instant dislike to the place, hiding in the basement of an outbuilding where he discovers an electronic setup that allows him to watch the others' treatments; it eventually becomes clear that something other than therapy is going on. Though teamed up with an elaborate interactive Web site and an iPhone app, Carman's tale isn't entirely successful in making things seem as bad as Will believes; when, in what is essentially an afterword, readers discover what's behind the supposed therapy, it doesn't have the impact that it might. Still, for younger teens, the book's relatively low fear factor might be an advantage. Ages 12 up.