I actually read Stolen Away (Horror 287 pages) by Kristin Dearborn sometime earlier this month, but my most of my life is kind of a big, giant blur right now. This book was definitely a gripping read and I finished it the same night I started it, which wound up being a rather late night for me.
“Trisha doesn’t have much going for her, but she is a good mother. That’s what she’s always told herself, anyway. She wakes in the middle of the night to hear her infant son has been taken. Her daughter, who saw the kidnapping, tearfully tells her a monster took him. Her ex-boyfriend Joel owes the Russian Mafia a million dollars, but that’s nothing compared to the trouble Trisha’s got herself into. Searching for her son, Trisha and Joel won’t let gangsters, demons, or Joel’s over-bearing mother stop them. Trisha and Joel are forced to confront demons along the way, and not all of them are the literal kind. Not everyone can be trusted, and that has nothing to do with who’s a demon and who’s human. Trisha knows her son is out there, and is alive. Will she be able to reunite her family?”
Stolen Away is one of those horror books that messes with your emotions on the level of putting the characters into a situation with no right answers. If your son was taken away from you under extremely anomalous conditions and then people randomly started dying around you, what would you do? What could you do? If you know no one will believe you because of who you are and the fact that you already have police records, if you don’t have anyone to turn to, what do you do? How do you get your son back? A true mark of horror is powerlessness in the face of difficult situations; situations without hope and with a series of ideas that don’t have better options as more events unfold. Horror is often about mostly good people being put in situations with no good choices and no right answers. Stolen Away does that very well.
One of the things that really struck me about this book is how close to real life this actually is. The characters in this book, Trisha and Joel, have nothing going for them. They can barely pay their bills and finances are a huge concern for them. They don’t live in or with extravagance and even small expenses add up. While other books and stories I’ve read say that the character struggles with finances and life in general, this is probably one of the first I’ve read set in the modern world that really made me feel how much a lack of solid finances impacted the characters’ lives. I think part of that is because it’s more than just a character thinking about not being able to pay their bills – it’s how other people treat them, too. It’s Trisha knowing that she can’t go to the police because they wouldn’t believe her or they flat out wouldn’t care. It’s how people treat you when you wear cheaper clothes or clothes that aren’t quite clean. It’s being willing to flash the bartender at a club to get free drinks. There’s so much about how a lack of finances impacts your actual lifestyle and I think that was very adequately portrayed in this story.
I think the most powerful parts of this book involve interpersonal relationships. The relationship between Trisha and Joel is one filled with miscommunication and a lot of confusion. There’s self-doubt and individual derogatory thoughts and all of Trisha and Joel’s interactions are solid representations of what you go through when you care about someone but mistakes are made and you know they couldn’t possibly care about you after everything that happens on both sides. There’s also the relationship with Joel’s mother, Sasha, and the relationships with Kourtney and Brayden. Sasha wants Joel to be clean and to live a more upscale life and believes that Trisha is beneath Joel. Sasha does mean well, but the gap between her lifestyle and Joel and Trisha is abundantly clear. All of the characters in Stolen Away are distinct and very different people with different motivations, different views on the world, and different ways to manage the trials they encounter.
Overall, I would probably rate this book as a high three on my rating scale. It’s not higher on my scale because I typically am not one to have so much reality in the books I read for entertainment. It’s a very well-written and gripping horror story and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who reads horror. The characters are solid and the story is interesting. I’m glad that I own this book and will happily reread it in the future.
Dearborn, Kristin. Stolen Away. Thunderstorm Books, 2015.