It’s not as though the first book in the From Away series didn’t pack a lot of action into its short length, but Book Two manages to outdo it, following up on an explosion that ended Book One in a way that genuinely surprised me, proving a) that Mackey doesn’t have a problem with killing characters, even when you think they’re safe, and that b) this whole thing is much more tightly constructed and crafted than you might expect. Many serialized stories feel a bit thrown together or “seat of the pants,” as though the author is writing it as he/she goes. Sometimes, that works great, but more often, it leads to the series fizzling out as it goes along, with the author forced to deliver payoffs that can’t measure up to the buildup. That doesn’t seem like an issue so far in From Away, as Mackey starts threading together his disparate arcs in unexpected ways, pushing new characters to the forefront while older ones start evolving in unexpected ways.
More importantly, Mackey is ratcheting up the horror, giving us the genuine feeling that everything is about to go to pieces in this little town, and all that we’re seeing is prologue to unimaginable horrors. Mackey has created a strange, compelling little town, and his ability to gradually reveal more and more about it is on display throughout, continually drawing us in and throwing light onto some of the strange happenings we’re seeing. It makes for a great modern variation on e Lovecraftian trope of “small New England town with unimaginable dark secrets,” especially with the ongoing way that many of the town’s own characters don’t even believe in their own history until it starts confronting them.
It’s a great, enjoyable piece of horror fiction, one that makes the serialized format work for me while still delivering the rich plotting, interesting characters, and good writing I like to have in my horror. Bring on Book Three!