"Korman looked almost peaceful, but Jackson Bailey knew better than to trust the quiet nature of darkness. In it rested something insidious, curdling, vile."

The town of Korman thrives because of its steel industry. Seventy years ago, the steel factory went up in an inferno of flame and death, and the community barely recovered from the tragedy. Now the immigrants and refugees who staff the new factory see parallels between what they are experiencing and what happened just before the blaze. Siblings Tessa and Assam are determined to evoke change before another tragedy occurs. On the other side of progress, Korman mayor Anthony Hemsworth will go to any lengths to keep the town from changing, even if this means neglecting his family to ensure his next term. And Rose Wilson, the town's oldest resident, must face the pain of her memories and the struggle of accepting the present. Young documentarian Brooklyn Toomes puts herself in the middle of the town's conflicts. In the process, she makes an astonishing discovery. Deep in the ruins of the old factory is a creature formed by both the fire's molten steel and by the neglect and denial of the entire town.

While this novel's action, suspense, and fast pace classify it as a thriller, its writing style recalls many contemporary horror writers such as Stephen King or Paul Tremblay. The rustman and how the narrative and characters deal with him come across as a loving homage to Shelley's Frankenstein. But Maddalena's novel goes beyond simple classifications. It also tackles racism, homophobia, workers' rights, political corruption, and other social justice issues. The writing is cinematic, mirroring Brooklyn's filmmaking, with vivid scene descriptions and character-driven plots. Occasionally this film-like style results in sparse character descriptions or backgrounds. Ultimately, however, this novel masterfully takes on many disparate elements, weaving them into an impassioned tale of retribution, justice, and togetherness.

Return to USR Home