Pros: Hits the spot as a creepy horror tale
Cons: A too-sudden development at the end
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
In Ike Hamill’s Migrators, Alan, his wife Liz, and their son Joe have moved into a house that has belonged to Liz’s family. Alan would like to make a few changes and repairs, update the house a bit, but Liz isn’t so sure about changing the place. Alan decides to start slowly, and enlists the help of Bob, a neighbor. Strange details start to add up–a possible ghost, a rocking chair that relocates itself even after Alan nails it down–but Alan deliberately ignores the signs. Finally Alan and Bob talk to a maybe-crazy neighbor and learn of the migrators. They’re strange creatures that can eat souls, and/or strip the flesh from a body leaving only the bones and organs. They trek near the town during October of every year, and during that time pretty much the entire town shuts down. A particularly large family seems to have unusual knowledge of the creatures, and they’re doing everything they can to convince Alan and Bob that nothing’s wrong.
Apart from one detail late in the book that seemed a little too convenient, I absolutely loved Migrators. It’s a fascinating horror tale, and I got totally sucked in wanting to know what would happen next. The migrators become quite terrifying as the plot builds, but it turns out there are reasons why the whole town hasn’t simply dried up and blown away.
Alan and Bob are interesting characters. Alan is bound and determined not to believe in the supernatural, but not in a ‘he’s being an idiot’ kind of way. It made sense to me, which is fantastic, because skepticism in a horror novel often reeks of stupidity. I enjoyed the characters in general. Alan and Bob strike up an interesting friendship. I think Joe could have been filled in a bit more, but he wasn’t flat. I was fond of Liz–the conflict of wanting to preserve the family home vs. updating/fixing it is not an easy one, and she had such fascinating memories and tales from her family. I enjoyed that aspect of the story.
The pacing grabbed hold of me and wouldn’t let go. It built up steadily to its nail-biting climax. I take notes as I read books that I plan to review, and at some point with Migrators my notes trail off because I was too involved to remember to take them!