I’ve only read one Cherie Priest book before, and I can’t say I loved it. This one came out a bit better, though again I really wasn’t bowled over.
The base concept of The Toll is a mysterious monster that periodically claims victims. If that sounds like the plot of most every horror movie you’ve ever scene, well, you won’t have any surprises. More to the point for me was that, while the action moves smoothly, this is also a story that could have been told just as effectively in a short story – a novelette at the most; there’s nothing about it that required this length.
As noted, Priest’s writing is smooth. The characters are engaging and mostly quirky enough to be interesting – though two of the key characters, including the one the story turns out to be about, are never explained. The story moves smoothly, even if it’s clear where it’s headed from the start. Priest has done a very good job of mixing horror in a backwoods small town with a kind of wry acceptance of modern technology that I think few could have pulled off as well. I just wish the story she chose to tell with it were more interesting. If you want comfortable familiarity with a nice coat of paint on it, this is for you. If you’re looking for something more innovative, keep looking.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.