The Omen meets Needful Things
I’m a sucker for a good horror story where the main protagonists are children. I try to read any and all ‘coming of age’ horror books that I can get my hands on. I think the appeal to me is how you get a different perspective because kids have a fundamentally different world view to adults. Kids in these stories are so much more accepting of what they are experiencing and are quicker to believe in the unbelievable. The Losers Club didn’t waste much time debating whether IT was real; they accepted their situation without question and asked: “What are we going to do about it”? The same dilemma is presented to the unnamed seventeen-year-old narrator of Seth, when a creepy five-year-old boy named Seth moves in next door.
Rawhead, Alabama is a small town where nothing much ever changes. Everyone shops at the same General Store, sends their kids to the same school and attends church on Sundays. It is a town where everyone knows everyone else, where you can raise a family and never want to leave.
When a new family moves to town, they seem like the perfect neighbors. Good-hearted Christian people with a young boy named Seth. Most people take an instant liking to Seth but a select few of the children of Rawhead think there is something…not quite right about him. When accidents begin to happen across town, people begin to go missing, and Seth begins to speak in tongues at the local church, it is clear that their beloved town is under attack. The question becomes: can the children convince everyone that Seth is the cause, before their town, and everything they love is taken away from them.
The ‘creepy kid’ trope is a well-worn one, but I really enjoyed the direction that Aldridge went with it in Seth. The overall tone is one of creeping dread and the story is less about what is going to happen, and more about how the characters are impacted by the events of the story. It is made clear from the outset that Seth is a bad kid, and it’s hinted that he may even be a supernatural threat. What I found interesting about the story was how the focus is on how the characters react to this knowledge. As the stakes increase and the tension ratchets up, the need for action increases, but so do the consequences of carrying them out, and it becomes less about a potentially demonic child and more about whether the book’s lead characters will sacrifice in order to do the right thing.
It’s a fascinating take and one that crops up a lot in Seth. Religion is a very looming presence in the book and plays a major role, as do themes of parental expectations and blind faith. We are often presented with introspective insight into the main character’s thoughts on the slow decay of his small-town way of life, but he is also capable of acting, and putting a stop to events and the real drive of the story is what he, and those around him, choose to do when faced with adversity.
Creepy and understated, Seth is a slow burn with a different take on a well-known trope. Highly recommended for fans of small-town gothic horror.
SETH by Christy Aldridge
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As things begin to grow colder and the little boy’s influence only grows stronger, everyone begins to wonder: Who is Seth?
DescriptionIn the winter of 1966, a small southern town becomes entangled in a horror they never anticipated. With birds attacking the townsfolk, the people only have one person to turn to; a five year old boy who proclaims to be prophet. He makes his claims of being sent by God to rid them of their sins. Everyone is falling for this little boy and his judgments. But one boy knows differently. He’s seen what this little boy is doing and he’s determined to stop him. He’s determined to make sure no one else knows the pain he’s known. As things begin to grow colder and the little boy’s influence only grows stronger, everyone begins to wonder: Who is Seth?