Duluth author Luke Moravec’s “Ghost Town Run” opens with a good hook.
During a haunted walk in a museum on Halloween night 1979, a young girl fails to win “Fright of the Night”, because of a simple detail designed to send shivers down your spine.
Chapter 1 begins 17 years later with five teenagers in a car leaving at 1 a.m. to check on some scarecrows, which was also a good hook. The same was true for the second chapter involving a clock stoppage.
Starting a novel with three solid hooks, each of which convinces me to keep reading, is truly impressive. I can’t remember the last time I was really excited to keep reading a book.
Chapter 3 had yet another great hook, but at this point the plot pieces were coming together. However, I never imagined what the main action that takes up most of “Ghost Town Run” would be and how caught up I would be in not just the action but the details (even the math stuff).
No, I’m not saying. Read the book. Let yourself be surprised by the originality of Moravec.
The story is set in 1996, a time before cell phones became the absolute necessity in the arsenal of teenagers.
Moravec’s engaging narrator is 14-year-old Toby Heckler, who is wingman to his older cousin, school star Seth.
Toby is smart, without being a smart donkey. One of the joys of the book is whenever Toby gets irritated by something, like why people always use “five minutes” as the default length. No matter what happens, Toby can’t help but make shrewd observations about things that catch his eye.
Each chapter begins with an excerpt from a story in the local newspaper, academic journal, unpublished book, etc. Care should be taken as these provide clues to the strange happenings after midnight in the city of Brighton.
Try not to get sidetracked trying to figure out if Brighton is really Duluth in disguise.
Moravec keeps things dark in the Goldilocks area, avoiding both profanity and terror, and sticking mostly to horror. Even then, most of the horror is on the sidelines of the story until the big finish. The key is that what Toby and Seth are doing is interesting and entertaining even without the horror elements.
“Ghost Town Run” targets readers ages 10 to 18 and is described as a blend of “mystery, comedy and cosmic horror in an original adventure for all ages.” The adventure part really rings true because while reading it, I remembered reading “Huckleberry Finn” when I was a kid and wanted to go rafting down the Mississippi.
There’s no Stephen King story where you’d want this to happen to you, but reading this book, you can see yourself rolling alongside Seth’s Pontiac Grand Am.
You may not be Toby, but you sure can be better than Jet.
Are you addicted?
- Author: Luc Moravec
- Publisher: Amazon
- Pages: 295
Lawrance Bernabo is a theater and arts critic for the Duluth News Tribune.