Rookfield by Gordon B. White
When Cabot Howard's ex-wife, Leana and their son, Porter, flee the pandemic to the backwoods town of Rookfield, Cabot sets off after them. Once there, however, Leana is in hiding, her family won't hand Porter over, and the townsfolk are deadly serious about always wearing masks. The children all dress like little plague doctors and the adults are hellbent on getting Cabot out by nightfall.
Despite being alone and under attack, Cabot won't leave without his son. Nothing - not ex-in-laws, not the sheriff, not even whatever monstrosity might lurk in the woods behind the barn- will stop Cabot from getting them out of ...Rookfield.
Cabot is on a mission to find his son and bring him home. Set during the pandemic Cabot doesn't care about the virus and certainly not the lockdown rules and regulations. It doesn't take long to conclude he's a bit of an arsehole. He's furious that his ex wife Leana has taken their son away from the city and back out across country hundreds of miles away back to Rookfield a small town in the middle of nowhere where his ex wife family hails from. However due to the pandemic his lawyer advises him there's not much he can do other than wait it out.
Cabot refuses to wait so he sets off, driving non stop until he finds Rookfield. Gordon B. White does an amazing job of quickly establishing some seriously weird vibes about this town. If it were me I'd leave straight away.
Even visiting the local shop seems fraught with danger but Cabot doesn't seem to notice any of this, he's too busy being an arsehole! He's a deeply flawed man, he's rude, and aggressive and mostly self centred but he loves his son. After a close shave he finally manages to locate the remote location where his son is being held .
Porter is drastically changed. His ex-wife's family are very reluctant to talk to Cabot. Leana refuses to come out and speak with him. He can't quite put his finger on his son's new appearance and things get even worse for Cabot, he's clearly not welcome in this little town.
We begin to learn that Cabot has been an absent father and even though Rookfield is a small out of the way town laced with danger and uncertainty, Porter doesn't want to leave. There's no sign of the ex wife and Cabot grows worried for her safety too. Nothing is what it seems in this town far from civilisation. No one is willing to help him not even the law. The town is hiding secrets from the rest of the world but Cabot is determined to find answers and protect his son.
Cobat has a lot of problems, it's so easy to not like him, he's domineering husband and absent father but you can't help but admire his tenacity of refusing to leave until he's sure both Porter and Leana are safe. Through his troubles he comes to realise that he really does love them both but is it too late for them to be a family once again?
I loved the fast paced action of this tale. There is absolutely no filler in these pages. Rookfield is a multi genre mash up of thriller, folk horror and mystery mixed together to create a really unique tale. There are some really chilling moments in this tale whilst also being a really tense and gripping read.
I loved the ending too, Rookfield goes out with a bang and the ambiguous ending really fits in with the mysterious town of Rookfield and its strange macabre customs. We never really know what happens to Cabot and will always be left wondering what happened to him.
Overall, this is an incredible debut released by Trepidatio Press. I can't wait to read more from Gordon B. White.
About Gordon B. White
Gordon B. White is the author of the horror/weird fiction collection As Summer's Mask Slips and Other Disruptions and the novellas Rookfield (Oct. 2021) and In Her Smile, the World (with Rebecca J. Allred, Feb. 2022). A graduate of the Clarion West Writers Workshop, Gordon's stories have appeared in dozens of venues, including Nightmare, Pseudopod, The Best Horror of the Year Vol. 12, and the Bram Stoker Award® winning anthology Borderlands 6. He regularly contributes reviews and interviews to outlets including Nightmare, Lightspeed, and The Outer Dark podcast. You can find him online at www.gordonbwhite.com.