Farmington is a small town in Vermont with a dark heart. Its abandoned textile factory was the location for the death of a number of people. Claire, our heroine, and her brother, Sam, went out exploring and Sam became the latest victim. Following his death the family was never the same and neither was Claire, as she learned to live with guilt and subtle blame from her parents combined with an overwhelming sense of loss.
We then skip forward a number of years to an older Claire. She is now a librarian in Farmington, and the guilt and loss around Sam’s death have never left her. She finds her only solace in her job. (As a librarian myself, I loved this part.) Meaningful relationships and romance have been lost to her sorrow.
Farmington is a town that rarely changes and has little to offer outsiders. Unexpectedly, a coffee company wants to open a shop in the town and chooses the textile factory as their intended location. The factory has a hold on Claire’s life. It is her connection to her brother and the reason she could never move on from the town. She desperately wants the factory preserved as it is and to stop the renovation and new company from coming in. On the opposite side we have Justin, the coffee shop executive, who is drawn to the factory. He moves to Farmington and he and Claire are drawn together.
Everyone in the town who has lost a loved one to the factory has a shared experience – nightmare visions of the people who perished. As we are introduced to new people in the town it’s apparent that losses at the factory have brought darkness to nearly everyone in Farmington. One of the most powerful parts of the book is when we’re taken back to 1957 to see how some of the textile workers met their end. It’s as moving as it is cold and shocking.
The tale is haunting throughout – and not just the nightmares. The unease and darkness is ever-present. The story is heavy on atmosphere and it’s effective. However, I’d really hoped for a darker ending following all the build-up and dread. If you like a subtle haunting tale with rich characterisation, this is the book for you.
Reviewed by Andrew Tadman. @thebooksofblood