- Expected Apr 6, 2021
Inspired by the McMartin preschool trials and the Satanic Panic of the ‘80s, the critically acclaimed author of The Remaking delivers another pulse pounding, true-crime-based horror novel.
Richard doesn’t have a past. For him, there is only the present: a new marriage to Tamara, a first chance at fatherhood to her son Elijah, and a quiet but pleasant life as an art teacher at Elijah’s elementary school in Danvers, Virginia. Then the body of a rabbit, ritualistically murdered, appears on the school grounds with a birthday card for Richard tucked beneath it. Richard doesn’t have a birthday—but Sean does . . .
Sean is a five-year-old boy who has just moved to Greenfield, Virginia, with his mother. Like most mothers of the 1980s, she’s worried about bills, childcare, putting food on the table . . . and an encroaching threat to American life that can take the face of anyone: a politician, a friendly neighbor, or even a teacher. When Sean’s school sends a letter to the parents revealing that Sean’s favorite teacher is under investigation, a white lie from Sean lights a fire that engulfs the entire nation—and Sean and his mother are left holding the match.
Now, thirty years later, someone is here to remind Richard that they remember what Sean did. And though Sean doesn’t exist anymore, someone needs to pay the price for his lies.
Chapman (The Remaking) evokes the "satanic panic" that convulsed schools and day care centers in the 1980s, destroying reputations and lives, in this spellbinding psychological thriller. In 1983, five-year-old Sean Crenshaw is goaded by seemingly concerned adults into fabricating accounts of ritual abuse of students by teachers at his school. Thirty years later, with the resulting witch hunts behind him, Sean has renamed himself Richard Bellamy and works as an art teacher at the upscale Danvers School in Virginia. But a series of disturbing incidents pulls him back into the nightmare of his past: a school pet is found ritually slaughtered, and kids in his class begin blaming bruises on their bodies on a fellow student named "Sean" even though Richard has no student of that name. Chapman skillfully toggles between 1983 and 2013, tantalizing readers with the possibility that Richard's suppressed past self might somehow be expressing itself in the present, and he laces the text with interviews between young Sean and manipulative authorities who are horrifying in their own right. The result is a suspenseful tale of paranoia that will keep readers riveted until the last surprise is sprung. \n