When Pax Martin was able, he high-tailed it out of the backwoods Tennessee town where he grew up. He was one of only a handful of residents who did not fall victim to a ‘syndrome’ that killed several and left most horribly and grotesquely transformed into monster-like humans.
Fast-forward about a dozen years. Pax finds himself heading back to this train-wreck of a town after he learns of a friend’s suicide. Thus begins the story laid out by author Daryl Gregory in The Devil's Alphabet.
This is a tale of mystery and corruption in the sudden freak show created by an unknown source. The pace of the novel is quick enough to hold readers’ interest. Though the plot itself is not necessarily groundbreaking, the backdrop of a hillbilly town full of strange-looking humans makes the tale vivid, even breathtaking. The storyline takes a turn when the government begins an effort to quarantine the town when the same ‘syndrome’ suddenly occurs in another part of the world.
Pros: Wildly creative cast of characters in an imaginative setting of outcasts; very satisfying ending with room for a sequel (?!)
Cons: A couple of questions remain unanswered; take away the bizarre nature of the town and its people, and the plot is somewhat average
Bottom Line: The author’s creativity will spark your own imagination and makes for a vividly memorable ride.