A few years back, I read and was knocked out by Stefan Kiesbye's Your House is on Fire, Your Children All Gone. For this October, I decided to try another of his novels: The Staked Plains. It's short--166 pages--with fairly large font, so it could conceivably be read in a day (I managed it in two).
It starts off promisingly with a young woman, Jenny, moving to Querosa, New Mexico, with her husband, who has gotten a job teaching at a third-rate university. Querosa itself can barely be described as third-rate; it's a dusty, worn town in a seemingly permanent drought with a McDonald's and 60 churches.
Jenny brings something new to the community: She's a seer. She can see things in people's future. Not surprisingly, once she sets up shop, people are curious, and sometimes afraid, of her. But often the curiosity wins out, and they pony up their $20 to see what she can tell them.
But as Jenny gets to know the community better, there are unsettling doings, power plays by the few wealthy people, desperate acts by the many not-wealthy people, an ominous feral child who shows up to eat and drink with Jenny's dogs. And Jenny herself is drawn into a local circle of community power that puts her in danger.
This started off so well. Author Kiesbye creates this fictional town and makes it blisteringly real. The characters are initially well drawn out and interesting with all their flaws. But then it just--I don't know, devolves somehow. The story of Jenny's visions, initially the main force of the story, pretty much disappears. She makes some choices that don't seem to make sense with who she is, or who she's been presented to be to the reader. The ending, while disturbing, doesn't quite ring true either.
So yes, I was disappointed. But it did make me think I should dust off my copy of Your House is on Fire, Your Children All Gone to reread.