Vanguard, 2010 (1991)
Read an Excerpt
Reviewed by Martina Bexte
t all starts as an innocent family outing to Gull Island as various branches of the Jackson family converge to spend quality time together. Beau Jackson and his young cousins are soon eager to distance themselves from the grownups' drinking and bickering as well as their grandmother's endless stories about her lost daughter, Babygirl. When their odd cousin Sumter offers to show them what dark adventures lie in the thick woods surrounding their grandmother's house, Beau and his other cousins cannot resist.
umter introduces them to his hideaway, a rundown old shack that he's claimed as his clubhouse and that he's named
. As family tensions mount, the children find more and more reasons to sneak away to Neverland to visit Sumter's imaginary friend. Before long, however, it becomes clear that
isn't just a figment of the boy's overactive imagination. She is a very real entity who has ties to the family that go way back and she ultimately demands much more of Beau and his cousins than they could ever have imagined.
riginally released in 1991,
hasn't lost its one-two punch - particularly in Clegg's adept portrayal of Beau as he's slowly drawn into Sumter's manipulative games and madness. Dark, brooding and creepily atmospheric, this is Southern gothic horror at its best - a series of beautifully rendered black and white illustrations only add to the novel's sinister allure.
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