Book Review: The Storm King

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Many thanks to Ballantine Books for sending a copy of the dark and suspenseful novel The Storm King.  This was a story that continuously surprised me with its dark and winding plot, and kept me guessing (and second-guessing) until the very end.  That’s not easy to do with a Hoarder!

The Storm King centers on Nate McHale; an endlessly complicated character who has spent his life running from the damning ghosts of his past.  After hearing the news that the body of his high school sweetheart has turned up in the town of his youth, Nate decides to momentarily step away from his idyllic life as a successful New York City surgeon and happy family man to attend the funeral.  He knows what’s waiting for him: painful memories of the death of his family, friends who will question his presence, and a town that brims with rabid resentment toward a man who was once known as the Storm King.

Shortly after Nate’s arrival to Greystone Lake, you feel the tension.  While Nate’s spirited grandmother is delighted to see him, the rest of his past seems to have been waiting years to cast aspersions.  It’s at this point that the reader gets glimpses into the teen years of the Storm King, and hints about his persona and the anger that simmers beneath his surface.  I was about a quarter of the way through, and wondered – wait a minute… is Nate…. is Nate… the enemy? 

And this is where the book really snatches your undivided attention.  You start to question every character.  You start to read about Nate with raised eyebrows.  And then when a hurricane bears down on Greystone Lake and a new batch of “Storm Kings” pops out of the shadows to right perceived wrongs, everyone is suddenly guilty.  Everyone is also fair game.

I didn’t know which end was up.  Do I like Nate?  Am I behind this protagonist?  Or have I been duped by the charisma and frightening charm of a madman?

Needless to say, I’ll go no further on that topic, since I don’t want to steal the book’s thunder (pun intended).

This novel is packed with secrets, vengeance and mystery.  At the outset, the pace of the plot is deliberate and careful.  The darkness unfolds slowly.  You meet the characters one by one, and peek at scenes from the past.  And just when you feel as though you have the book’s answers within your grasp, the story tilts downward, and you’re suddenly careening toward the climax at about 100 miles an hour.  This is not an exaggeration – I stayed up WAY past my bedtime to get to the WHO and the WHY.  You won’t stop reading until the book is finished.  When all is said and done, you might be a bit breathless, but you’ll be immensely satisfied.  And yes, you’ll have to wait for the very last page for every answer.  This is a smart read that does not disappoint.

4 stars for The Storm King.