Title: The Color of Evil
Author: Connie Corcoran Wilson
Publisher: Quad Cities Press
How I Read It: Kindle edition purchased by me.
Synopsis: Tad McGreevy has a power that he has never revealed, not even to his life-long best friend, Stevie Scranton. When Tad looks at others, he sees colors. These auras tell Tad whether a person is good or evil. At night, Tad dreams about the evil-doers, reliving their crimes in horrifyingly vivid detail.
But Tad doesn’t know if the evil acts he witnesses in his nightmares are happening now, are already over, or are going to occur in the future. He has no control over the horrifying visions. He has been told (by his parents) never to speak of his power. All Tad knows is that he wants to protect those he loves. And he wants the bad dreams to stop.
At Tad’s eighth birthday party (April 1, 1995) in Cedar Falls, Iowa, the clown his parents hire to entertain Tad’s third-grade classmates is one of the bad people. Pogo, the Killer Clown (aka Michael Clay) is a serial killer. So begins 53 nights of terror as Tad relives Pogo’s crime, awakens screaming, and recites the terrifying details to his disbelieving family. The situation becomes so dire that Tad is hospitalized in a private institution under the care of a psychiatrist–who also does not believe the small boy’s stories.
And then the police arrest Pogo, the Killer Clown.
Flash forward to the beginning of Tad’s junior year in high school, 8 years later. Tad is 16 and recovered from the spring of his third-grade year. When Michael Clay was caught and imprisoned, the crime spree ended and so did Tad’s bad dreams.
Until now, in the year of our Lord 2003, when evil once again stalks the land.
This is a terrifying, intense story of the dark people and places that lurk just beneath the surface of seemingly normal small-town America. As one reviewer says, “Wilson nails the darkness beneath the surface of small-town Midwestern life with an intense story based on fact.”
Tad must wage a silent war against those who would harm the ones he loves. A battle to the death.
*Synopsis taken from Goodreads
My Review: There are times when, as a reader, I make a conscious decision to step outside of my normal reading box and pick up something totally uncharacteristic for me. I was approached about reading this series, and although I knew it wasn’t entirely my bag, I decided it would be fun to try something a bit different. I looked at the synopsis and figured that since it’s been awhile since I tried some horror, it could be interesting to try it again.
As I was reading, you can imagine my surprise when I discovered that I didn’t like the book, but for an entirely different reason than not being a big fan of the genre. See, I was mentally prepared for this to be a thrill ride, and a bit gory. I knew going into it that I was going to have to steel myself for all that, and I did. But there were some other elements of the story that I had a difficult time with, and I really thought they would pass, but the final chapter came around and I had the same complaints as I had at the beginning.
First and foremost, I will mention that the “horror” or gore aspect of this is not exaggerated. I’ve seen some things billing this story as YA and I have to vehemently disagree with that categorization. There are a ton of violent deaths, blood, and just overall ickiness. Some of the characters are teens, but I don’t think this is appropriate subject matter for your average YA reader at all. So, if you’re a parent and your teen wants to read it, I would advise reading it yourself first and then deciding if you think it’s okay. I’m pretty liberal and there’s no way I would let someone under the age of about 17 even think about this one.
The story starts out interestingly enough, basically at Tad’s 8th birthday party. We get the introduction of Michael Clay, aka Pogo the Clown, and that’s where my annoyance started. I think that a murderous clown can be a good character, and could be a base for a unique story, but this screamed John Wayne Gacy to me from the start. There were just too many similarities for my liking, taking it from a story sort of about this kid with supernatural abilities, to a “what if Gacy had escaped and continued his spree?” Gacy himself went by the name Pogo the Clown, was known as the Killer Clown, created art from within prison after he was caught, killed 33 known victims, and buried a majority of them in his crawl space. Granted, I have a bit of a fascination with the psychology of serial killers, so it’s possible that I went into this knowing more about Gacy than the average reader. However, the author had to have known that someone would see the parallels. I think I would have enjoyed it more if this clown had been more original, and a new take on that ever creepy scenario, instead of rehashing a crime from the 70s.
I also felt like there were too many characters and too many things going on. We’ve got three main issues in this one: Michael Clay; a psychopathic and obsessive teenager; and a missing kid. I think that the book would have been a lot better if it had focused on just one of these topics instead of all three. It also would have benefitted from a smaller cast of secondary characters and explanations behind so many things. For example, there were a few times in the book where the history of a particular neighbor or house was explained, with no need for the information or no further mention of that person. It became confusing at times, because these segments would be kind of like tangents off the main story, and I felt like they detracted from the overall cohesiveness of the story. Additionally, there were several scenarios where the wrong character name was referenced, almost as though the character had initially been called by a different name and renamed during another draft, but some pieces were missed. This also confused me a bit because I would think “oh, is there a third person in this scene?”
There was also a lot of repetition, which I could understand if this was a 600+ pager, but at under 300 pages, I didn’t feel like I needed to be told about Tad’s “special power” multiple times. It fit at the beginning of the novel as it was happening, but over time we would be introduced to a new character, who would then explain Tad’s situation again. Or, the character of Jeremy repeated over and over again that “he and Jenny were in love and no one could do anything about it, especially her wimpy step-dad, he wasn’t her real dad anyway…” The level of repetition seemed more fitting to a middle grade book, with the exception of the subject matter in this one.
And finally, I really felt like most of the adult characters were kind of disgusting in one way or another. I completely understand that all humans have their flaws, but it didn’t seem like there was a decent parent among them until really awful things started happening to their family and friends. At one point, the scene is a pretty terrible one taking place on Halloween night, and the inner monologue of one of the police officers is essentially complaining about how her costume is going to waste. I’m sorry if it’s a bit critical of me, but if you don’t want to fight crime on a holiday, you should probably be in a different line of work.
I will be reading the sequel to this book, although I’m definitely going to take a bit of a break and not dive right into it. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that some of my issues will be less prevalent in the next book, or that I won’t be as bothered if they do exist. I am curious to see what will happen to resolve the threads of story that were left open, and in a way I will be interested to see what heinous crimes come next in poor Tad’s nightmares.
Read this book if: I think fans of the horror genre might enjoy it. I had a hard time though.
My Rating: 2.5/5 – Did I fall asleep?