Review: “Fifteen,” C. Aric Hanley

Pros: Nice and creepy!
Cons: Overused autism = magic; initial rush
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Fifteen, by C. Aric Hanley, is a Lovecraftian tale of horror. Teenaged Ethan finds himself in a car wreck, his father dead at the wheel. When he goes for help, he finds out that all the adults in the town just died. He and the other teens try to figure out what’s going on, while the younger kids go strangely feral in record time. There’s something alien behind it all, and the world is going to hell.


There’s an awful lot of initial equanimity. Kids are hauling adults’ bodies around with far less emotional trauma involved than is believable. It felt like the author was trying to rush through the setup so he could get to the rest of the story. No one’s even trying to speculate as to cause of death, which when we’re in an era of everyone watching CSI and L&O feels unbelievable. It’s simply glossed over.

The world gets creepier and creepier as time goes on. Scary, deadly creatures they call “tall-wolves” do a lot of damage, and can reassemble themselves after taking damage. Note that in the unfolding story there are aspects of pedophilia and rape that emerge. There’s also a theme of autism = magic; I’ve found that in multiple stories lately, and it’s becoming quite a cliche. It turns out that Ethan has a bit of a special role to play as well. He is referred to as the Witness, and I wish this had been explored more. I still don’t entirely get what that referred to and why.

I definitely enjoyed this dark tale and found it well worth reading. The characters are interesting and events give off a creepy, Lovecraftian vibe.

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