Book Review: The Local Truth: White Harbor: Book 1 by Carlos E. Rivera

“’Old Man Curling works for the house,’ Royce said. ‘But it’s the house that does the killin’,’ Leroy continued.” – Carlos E. Rivera, The Local Truth: White Harbor: Book 1 

THIS IS an impressive debut novel. The Local Truth: White Harbor: Book 1 by Carlos E. Rivera is reminiscent of Stephen King’s and Dean Koontz’s early works; the author provides crisp and authentic dialogue that brings the characters to life amid an often surreal and terrifying literary landscape. This is an exceptional piece of blood-curdling horror literature.

Peter Lange, a troubled man haunted by his past, returns to his hometown of White Harbor after suffering a personal loss to visit his ailing and historically abusive mother, Martha, who has Alzheimer’s. Or is she just a demented fiend?! Little does Peter know that his return will unleash a malevolent entity lurking in the town’s shadows for centuries. White Harbor has a dark history of death and violence, and the locals refer to it as “Blight Harbor.” It’s a place filled with dark secrets and hidden horrors.

The entity that dwells in the town is worshipped by a cult that feeds it with secrets, fears, and nightmares. The entity is faceless and nameless, but it’s powerful and malevolent. Martha Lange is the only one who can speak directly to God. She is known as “Mother” to the Faithful, as she is God’s messenger and has declared now is the time for His awakening. Peter has been running from this entity his entire life but can’t ever truly escape it. His presence in White Harbor triggers a sequence of events that leads to activating the cult’s holiest prophecy. The prophecy is written in a bizarre, otherworldly language, ending with a chilling phrase that translates to “GOD WILL FEED!”

As the prophecy unfolds, Peter must confront his past and face the entity that has been haunting him. He must uncover the secrets of White Harbor and stop the cult from fulfilling their prophecy before it’s too late. The stakes are high, and the danger is real. The fate of White Harbor and the lives of its inhabitants depend on Peter’s courage and determination.

From the beginning, the narrative grips the reader with a powerful intensity. The slow, steady build-up of tension and unease creates an atmosphere of intense dread that is hard to shake off. As the story unfolds, the mystery and horrors that reveal themselves leave an indelible mark on the reader’s psyche. Each plot twist and turn is expertly crafted, and the characters are so well-developed that it feels like they could leap off the page at any moment. Especially “The Mother” and her son, Peter! By the time I reached the end, I was left with a lingering sense of unease that stayed with me for days. That is the true sign of great storytelling.

I was impressed by Rivera’s writing style, which conveyed the eerie ambiance of the story with such vividness and authenticity that it felt like I was right there in the midst of it all. I can’t stress this enough: the author’s talent for storytelling is exceptional. Every chapter was carefully crafted to keep me engaged and invested in the story, and despite its length of 500 pages, the book never felt tedious or cumbersome. Instead, it was a delightfully creepy, seamless read, with each page flowing effortlessly into the next. Still, this isn’t a sit-down and devour-in-one-session read. 

The novel’s point of view and time frame often shift, but I found it cohesive and could follow it with little issue. Personally, I enjoy these types of narratives. However, a reader who prefers a more straightforward and linear storytelling style should approach this novel with an open mind and an understanding that “revealed history” and backstory are essential elements. In the hands of a skilled writer like Rivera, complexity doesn’t equate to confusion.

Similarly, I appreciate the attention Rivera gives to his side characters. Since this is “Book 1,” perhaps these individuals play more prominent roles in subsequent series instalments. And even if they’re only around for this one book, I respect that the author felt a desire to flesh out these characters’ personalities and backstories. Frankly, I’m done with the sentiment that giving “too much” attention and care to secondary book elements slows down the pace or comes across as unnecessary. Readers should expect and appreciate more meat and potatoes in any novel over 500 pages—heck, even 400 pages! [Okay, rant over.]

The Local Truth: White Harbor: Book 1 is a mesmerizing amalgamation of various horror tropes, including a small town’s hidden malevolence, (Oc)cultism, and a cursed, haunted house, that all seamlessly fuse together, resulting in a fantastic reading experience. The novel is a delight for classic and contemporary horror enthusiasts and the first in what promises to be a fascinating yet terrifying series. Get ready to experience excellent horror fiction!

The Local Truth: White Harbor: Book 1 is available for purchase online at amazon.caamazon.com, and indigo.ca. For more information about this author, follow Carlos E. Rivera on Instagram and Facebook. Also, check out his TikTok and website!

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