Title: The Swell
Author: Adam Vine
Publication Date: March 1, 2021
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Mystery, Contemporary
Length: 11 pages
Source: I received a free copy from the author.
Rating: 2 Stars
Ana Barrington’s son is missing – and so is everyone else’s child. Every kid in Santa Cruz has vanished, leaving no trace but a single, cryptic message directing their parents to the sea…
Content warning: Death of children. I will not discuss this in my otherwise spoiler-free review.
Even the brightest day at the beach can hide some dark secrets.
One of the most interesting scenes happened in the beginning when Ana first realized her son Dana was missing. She briefly argued with her next-door neighbours about which of their missing children was a worse influence on the other one. I thought that moment was a great chance to get to know her better and a realistic look at the sorts of things a worried parent would bicker about while frantically looking for their child.
The narrator discovered hints here and there, but the brief explanations for how those things were connected only made my confusion about this storyline stronger. This is something I’m saying as a reader who prefers stories that expect their audiences to put work into figuring out a tricky mystery or subtle plot development. I have no problem with open-ended final scenes or not having all of my questions answered, but I really struggled to figure this one out or connect to it despite my strong interest in the beginning.
I enjoyed the way the message of this story was shared with the audience. Normally, I’m not a big fan of tales that are written as a warning for their readers, but I thought this one struck a good balance between pushing the plot forward and making its point. It was short and matter-of-fact on the issue it wanted to bring our attention which is always a good thing in my opinion.
If you love dark fantasy, The Swell might be right up your alley.