The Imaginary Realms of
Gilbert M. Stack



December Park by Ronald Malfi

Posted by Gilbert Stack on January 11, 2022 at 7:00 PM

December Park by Ronald Malfi

There are two parts to a great horror story—the buildup and the monster that is causing all of the trouble. In December Park, the buildup—the characters, the problem, the slowly increasing tension and sense of danger—is all great. Unfortunately, the big bad monster causing the problems did not satisfy the expectations that the excellent build up had created in me.


The problem is that kids are disappearing in a small town and originally the police don’t even want to admit that there is anything wrong. It seems clear they knew there was trouble—early on the first body is uncovered—but they don’t know what to do about it and so they do pretty much nothing. Our heroes, a young boy and his friends, work themselves into a game of investigation in which they seem to be making much more progress toward uncovering the villain (nicknamed the Piper as in Pied Piper fame) than the authorities are. Interspersed along the way are the sorts of problems school aged kids have including older bullies.


I thought this part of the novel ran a little long, but there is no question that it kept my attention and had me flipping pages to learn what would happen next. Unfortunately, the resolution—i.e. the Piper—just didn’t make any sense to me. It came out of left field and I just couldn’t figure the motivations. It bothered me so much that I almost reread the book to see if I had missed something when I realized it just wouldn’t have mattered. Nothing the author could have told me earlier would have made this resolution of the book sit well with me.


It's a shame. This novel was well on its way to earning five stars, but it lost its way in the last few chapters leaving me disappointed.


Categories: Reviews