Have you ever been in a situation, or met someone, that was just too good to be true? Everything was in all the right places, but something was just a little off. Matt Drabble’s novel, Gated, deals with the notion that sometimes “perfect” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Michael and Emily are your typical English couple. Except that Michael is a horror writer and Emily is a spunky teacher who is pregnant with their first child. However, when that child is taken away in a tragic accident, the Torrance family decides to relocate to America. After trolling the internet for a small town to settle in, Michael discovers Eden, “Heaven on Earth and Twice as Nice”. Unable to believe their good fortune, the couple packs up and moves across the pond.
When they arrive they are greeted by a stern set of security officers who are guarding the gates to the town. Although Michael and Emily are initially put off by this welcome, they immediately lose sight of their discomfort when they meet Casper Christian. His family built the town and sees to every matter personally. After moving into their beautiful mansion, settling into a comfortable friendship with their neighbors, and treated like an eagerly anticipated guest by the rest of the town, Michael and Emily feel like they’ve found the perfect place to start a new life.
The problem is that not everything is as it appears. There’s something dark and sinister under the plastic surface of Eden. Perfection is all well and good, but the Torrance’s discover that it also comes with a price.
There’s something engaging about this story. It’s a little predictable, in the sense that you know something bad is going to happen, but that’s about where the predictability stops. This book is definitely a story of good vs. evil, but don’t ever be too sure about who is playing on which team. Surprises are in store, and good ones. Michael and Emily are insightful characters that allow the reader to play with the “what ifs” in the story. Since Michael is a horror writer, he brings up questions that normally only exist in the reader’s head. He is their connection to the story. Throughout the book, Drabble drops in breaks that delve into the town’s history. This method of information gathering is brilliant for this story because it allows readers to fully appreciate what is happening to Michael and Emily.
Now, the only bad thing that can be said is that there is nothing more frustrating to a reader than having a good story marred by a lack of editing. Matt Drabble is from England, which means that he plays on the Torrance’s English culture and uses substitutions, such as “pavement” instead of “sidewalk”. This is not what is being addressed. If you happen to read the edition that is being reviewed now, there are errors. Serious grammatical errors. Sometimes it takes away from the story, but if you can find it in your heart to see through that, you’re in for a treat. Think along the sadistic lines of John Saul and VC Andrews. Not everyone is getting out of this story alive.
You can find Gated on Amazon.
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