The Scavenger (2020) – Aidan Lucid

Title:The Scavenger
Author:Aidan Lucid
Publisher/s:Jongleur Books
Date of publication:2020
Star Rating:⭐⭐⭐
Disclaimer:Aidan Lucid kindly sent me a copy of this novella in exchange for an honest review.

The Scavenger is a young adult novella by Aidan Lucid and is the story of three best friends who all have some dark and tragic secrets in their past and/or present. Through no fault of their own Jessica Barlow, Jared Duval, and Adrian Cole who are all 17 and attend Hopps Town High School find themselves dragged into a frightening situation that will make them all wish they had made some very different choices

Jared is openly gay and has a hard time dealing with his mother’s unwillingness to accept her son’s sexuality. She is a deeply religious woman, and though she clearly loves her son the subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) comments that are often coupled with the word ‘unnatural’ have become really difficult to brush aside with his usual easygoing attitude. He is also constantly being bullied at school by Lydia Moran, a 16-year-old girl who clearly has nothing better to do with her time.

Jessica’s mother Bertha is a single mom with a major drinking problem. She physically and verbally abuses her daughter on a daily basis, and nothing Jessica does or says seems to satisfy Bertha that Jessica is actually just a really good kid.

Adrian’s mother died in a fatal car accident several years before, and it’s something that haunts him and keeps him from connecting to those around him.

Somehow these three high schoolers with tragic baggage find each other, and their friendship seems to be the only constant in their lives – that and their troubling home lives. Everything seems as though it’s just going to stay exactly as it is until one night they make the joint decision to attend a Halloween party at school.

High school can be particularly cruel, and so being slightly different, and the target of much bullying the friends leave the party early, and on the way home on a dark and deserted road, a young girl appears. They pull over to find out if the girl is okay but she runs off into a nearby forest and disappears. Chasing after her all they discover is an old water well – and all three innocently make a wish. The girl never reappears.

The next morning Jessica wakes up to a mother who is being kind, has made breakfast, and is clearly not herself. Adrian meets Tina, a girl who really seems to like him, and Jarred’s biggest crush at school suddenly has the time of day for him. Things seem to be going really well for the three friends, and yet something is definitely amiss. Or possibly something or someone else’s presence can be felt, and it feels a little sinister, even though they all essentially got what they wished for…

Realizing that something just isn’t right the teenagers discover that the old well was where the body of a very evil man named Caleb Hammerson was dumped after he was murdered by members of Hopps Town 40 years prior. Somehow his ghost has connected with a demonic presence, and he has been haunting those who come near the well, and appearing to them in the grisly form of ‘the Scavenger’.

Every adventure story needs a hero, and Jarred realizes that he just may have the power to stop this monstrous presence, but he’s obviously going to need a little help.

Aidan Lucid’s novella is a part paranormal adventure, part ghost story, and part traditional horror. It is a coming-of-age tale about likable and relatable characters that find themselves battling more than just the horrors in their own lives, and the horrors of their pasts. The story quickly becomes more than that when the threat of a truly horrifying monster begins to haunt them in their daily lives, and in their small town. In order to beat the monster, Lucid utilizes subtle Christian undertones and a good-conquers-evil motif that carries the novella to its exciting end.

Written well, and for the age-appropriate audience, The Scavenger tackles some topical issues such as sexuality, race, addiction, and grief. The characters are the most intriguing part of all, and it is through their hardships and redemption that hope reveals itself. Aidan Lucid’s coming-of-age fantasy novella is a pleasant read and will appeal to a wide audience.

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