Publisher: Tor Books
Author: Cherie Priest
Released: July 9th, 2019
Warnings: Drownings, Missing persons, Suicide, Animal death
I received a copy of The Toll through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
The Toll is a dark new fantasy by Cherie Priest. And it truly is a deliciously dark tale. It blends modern horror with more traditional elements, creating something new and horrifying.
Set in Okefenokee Swamp, Georgia, this novel follows a trail of missing persons. And people do go missing in this town. Every thirteen years – you can count on it. The town may not be a famous one – but if it was, it’d be known for this mystery.
Warnings: The Toll is a seriously dark read. That means it goes hand and hand with some darker elements. There are missing persons, implied drownings (though likely this isn’t actually the case), murder/suicides, and animal death. Most of these events you can see coming, with one major exception. So just consider yourself warned.
The Toll wins the award for darkest novel I’ve read this year. Well, so far, at least. It’s so perfectly bone-chilling. It was terrifying and oddly compelling. And even in the worst moments of the novel, I found myself oddly hopeful, while waiting on bated breath for the next revelation.
This tale was told through the use of multiple perspectives. Which was a great call – it let us see more of the world, without necessarily giving us all the answers. A tough balance, but one that was found here.
What’s interesting is how different all of these perspectives are. First, there’s Titus, and yes that really is his name. He’s the newcomer, attached to the town by loss and tragedy. Then there are Daisy and Claire. Two elderly cousins, who seem to actually know what’s happening – but loathe to admit it. Their godson Cameron isn’t on the short list of people that know, but he’s got other things on his mind, so he’s okay with that. And finally there’s Dave. Dave has an odd history with this town. Unfortunately, he’s never really gotten the answers he’s been looking for.
Together this small band of people go up against something truly dark, and very much something other. Whatever it may be, you can be sure that it isn’t human. And I for one really enjoyed trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together.
The storytelling style made the gradual buildup to the final confrontation something truly terrifying. It’s not that there were jump scares every moment or two. More like it was this lingering sense of foreshadowing. The sense that something horrible was about to happen, and there was nothing to be done about it.
I loved every minute of this read; even while it did scare the heck out of me. I was lucky that I finished this one well before bed – I’m not sure I could have slept had that not been the case. Then again, I did read the whole thing in basically one sitting. It was too enthralling to put down.
The Toll is the first novel I’ve read by Cherie Priest. But I loved this one so much that clearly I’m going to have to go back and check out the rest of her works. I hope they’re all as intriguing as this tale was.