Title: The Night Screams
Author: Devon McCormack
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Release Date: July 28th, 2016
Page Count: 220
Reviewed by: PIU
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Running naked through the woods, Cal flees the sadistic man who abducted and tortured him. When he stumbles upon a convenience store, he breaks in to steal food. A young store clerk, Jake, confronts him, and they get into a fight that ends with Cal being knocked unconscious. He wakes in the home of Jake’s Uncle Gary, the owner of the convenience store. Realizing Cal needs help, Gary tries to communicate with him, but despite Cal’s efforts, he can’t bring himself to speak. Instead, he writes down his experiences. Horrified by the perverse cruelty Cal endured, Gary takes him to the police, who track down his tormentor.
Abandoned by his parents before his abduction, Cal doesn’t have anywhere to go, so Gary and his wife eagerly welcome him into their home. He feels fortunate to be with such caring people—something he’s never had before. Despite their help, he still can’t find his voice, and he wonders if he ever will. And Jake certainly isn’t making things any easier. It’s clear he doesn’t want Cal to be part of their family. But the more Cal gets to know him, the more he realizes Jake might be the very person who can heal the deep wounds left by his horrifying past.
Cal is a homeless gay 17 year old who runs through the woods, naked, all night trying to escape his captor. When he chances upon a convenience store, Cal tries to run off with some food but he is tackled and knocked unconscious by Jake, the store keeper. Instead of handing him over to the police, Cal is kept and cared for in the wilkeses household, the owner of the store he tried to steal from. Gary and Luce Wilkeses welcome him into their family as one of their own but Jake, their nephew is not so easily won over.
Cal has gone through a horrible experience and after his captor is found and taken care of by the police, he has a chance to live his life without being scared or looking behind his back all the time. Cal never had friends and his abusive parents have branded him as evil for his sexual orientation. So for the first time in his life he knows what a normal household filled with people who care, feels like. He finds himself attracted to Jake, who is straight. Jake does not warm upto him like the others but after Luce gets sick, Cal finds that what he knew about Jake is completely wrong and now maybe he will get a chance to live and love freely for once.
I am not completely won over by this story. The start was really explosive and it got me hooked but the story lost its steam as it progressed. Cal is subjected to heinous torture for several days so his recovery process has to be huge and strenuous but there is next to nothing regarding that. The amount of trauma that he went through would take anyone a lifetime to overcome but Cal is shown as coping very well without any help. A budding romance with an 18 year old boy does not feel like being enough to conquer the nightmares that come with the ordeal Cal has gone through.
Cal and Jake’s relationship is also one thing i found as developing too fast. Jake goes from hating and distrusting Cal to attracted to him in a matter of days. I was confused by Jake’s mood swings. A dual POV would have gone a long way in understanding Jake more.
As for the plot line, the series of events felt very disjointed, with no link to one another. As the title says, Cal is supposed to have “Night Screams” but the author kind of forgot the entire therapy and healing part after a few chapters in the beginning. The author has tried to incorporate a broad spectrum of issues, such as “gay teenagers abused and abandoned by parents”, “healing after a physical/mental trauma”, “acceptance of gay individuals by the community” and also “gay bashing” in some degree but the story failed to focus on any of these properly. So mush kept on happening in the story but the emotional impact of those events on the characters was insignificant.
The end was OK but I was not convinced that Cal has truly healed enough to take on a full fledged relationship with Jake. He is very insecure which can be normal in his condition but Jake’s love or the support of his new family does nothing to cure that. Addressing Cal’s physical and mental trauma was the most significant thing required in the book but the author skipped that part entirely.
Bottom line, this story could have been a great healing/loving romance but unfortunately that was not the case. I felt that the plot was like a “bunch of lose threads” which did not result into anything significant.