The Night Screams by Devon McCormack
Published by: Harmony Ink Press on July 28, 2016
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)
After his family abandoned him, Cal took refuge at a shelter for homeless LGBT youth. But one night he woke up in a dark room, naked, and with no idea where he was. And the torture that followed was nearly unbearable. When he manages to escape on a whim, he first heads to take care of his basic needs (clothes and food). But he’s caught shoplifting from a store, and he finds himself in a position where he’s once again unable to run.
Cal certainly doesn’t expect the kindness shown to him by the owner of the store. Gary and his wife Luce are willing to give Cal the benefit of the doubt (even though his trauma has left him speechless). They welcome him into their home and help him work with the police to find the man who abducted him. It’s a bit overwhelming for Cal but it’s definitely the support he needs.
Though what’s truly overwhelming for Cal is Luce’s nephew, Jake. Jake is skeptical of Cal at first, but Cal can understand why. Cal also understands why so many people are drawn to Jake. He’s attractive and he has an edge to him that is nothing short of intriguing. But Cal know Jake isn’t interested. He has a girlfriend. And Cal’s the guy who tried to steal from his family. But as Jake hints there might be a possibility for a relationship, Cal finds himself confused. Even if Jake is interested, should he take such a leap? Is he ready to be with someone like that after all he’s been through? Can he trust someone on that level? And would he be taking advantage of his generous hosts?
I enjoyed this one more than I originally expected I would. The characters–all of them, including the supporting cast–are complex and dynamic. The storytelling is engaging and descriptive. And the plot is paced well with just the right twists at the perfect time. Add to that the fact that it’s difficult not to feel for these two guys on a number of levels, and you can see why it was hard for me to put it down.
There are layers of issues that the author touches on in this story: abandonment, abuse, assault, kidnapping, religion, small town issues, violence, family, homophobia, etc. But none of it is done in a way that comes across as patronizing. And the intersection of these issues adds some realism to the story. We’re never dealing with just one issue at a time in our lives.
Despite this being a Harmony Ink title (Dreamspinner’s young adult imprint), I find myself questioning where this fits in the young adult spectrum. Yes, the main characters are in their late teens, but the content is really heavy and at times graphic. It seems like this may be more of a new adult title.
Content warnings: sexual assault, graphic violence, forced imprisonment, hate crimes
[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]