Blake and Jordan Crouch’s Eerie has an absolutely great setup, and a wonderful second act. But a great first two acts can be entirely undone by a bad final one, and it’s hard to overstate how bewilderingly odd and misbegotten Eerie‘s conclusion really is. And that’s incredibly frustrating, because until that series of final reveals, Eerie is intense and unnerving, and builds a fantastic atmosphere of dread and unease that’s undeniably effective. Sadly, though, it’s massively squandered, and the ending is so disappointing, that the book ultimately doesn’t work at all.
But let’s talk about that premise, because it’s pretty great. Eerie is the story of Grant and Paige, a pair of siblings who become orphans at an early age, thanks to a horrific car crash. But when we catch up to them, years later, their relationship has become more complicated; Grant is a police detective, and he ends up stumbling into his sister’s life during the course of a missing person’s investigation. But when he goes to meet with her, he learns that she’s unable to leave her house – because she’s being kept prisoner by some unnameable force. And now Grant is a prisoner as well.
Eerie unfolds quickly from there, as seems to be typical for Blake Crouch; there’s not a lot of fat here, and it doesn’t take long for Paige’s house to become the location of a waking nightmare. But it’s a weirdly cryptic one, with events unfolding in unclear ways, a force that seems to be beyond description, and a lot of insane madness that they can’t control. It’s all a book that clearly revolves around a central mystery: what is going on in that house? And why does it seem to only truly affect Grant and Paige?
I don’t want to spoil the answer that we get, but I’ll warn you that it’s a complete gearshift from the rest of the book. That’s apparently by design; from what I’ve read, the Crouch brothers intentionally set up the first three-quarters of the book to mislead the audience, and to allow the ending to be more of a surprise and a big reveal. And there’s nothing wrong with that in theory, but in execution, it feels genuinely bewildering, and leaves behind a slew of questions without any satisfying answers. The ultimate motivation of this “thing” is okay, but the action it’s taken to get that done don’t really make any sense whatsoever; more than that, the reaction of at least one character doesn’t really seem to gel with what we find out later on. But more than anything else, it’s the tonal shift that falls flat. I love when a book can shift genres, but it’s a high risk maneuver, and sadly, Eerie can’t pull it off; the gap between the horror and the answers we get is simply too great, and the whole book ends up leaving a bad taste of disappointment and irritation behind.