I dropped to a crawl and struggled through the door leading to the crawlspace. It smelled of earth and bricks and mortar. The floor was covered with a large sheet of black plastic, and above me fluffy bits of pink insulation hung from the ceiling. Chunks of fallen insulation lay scattered on the black plastic. I peered into the gloom at the other end of the crawlspace; it was dark enough that I couldn’t see the other wall. I scrambled outside, satisfied that nothing worse than insulation lay underneath our house.
Lost Boys is a novel by Orson Scott Card, author of the Ender’s Game series. Stephen “Step” Fletcher, his pregnant wife DeAnne, and his three children move to Steuben because of Step’s new job at Eight Bits, Inc. But soon, their high hopes turn to dread. Eight Bits is hostile, and their eight-year-old son Stevie is behaving oddly. He withdraws himself from family life until he only interacts with his imaginary friends. Then, one tragic, horrifying evening in December, the Fletchers realize that the cause of their troubles has been hiding underneath their floors all along.
Step Fletcher finds himself in a worrying situation when he moves to Steuben; he is constantly teetering on the edge as he juggles his responsibilities as breadwinner, husband, and father. His colleagues at Eight Bits Inc. are jealous, shifty, and sometimes downright twisted. Step tries hard to be the model employee, but his superiors will have none of it. Stress soon takes over. With a baby on the way, his son’s new visits to the psychiatrist, and the constant threat of unemployment hanging over his head, Step begins to be suspicious of every odd encounter—perhaps rightly so.
Steuben is an oddly disquieting place to live, as DeAnne soon realizes after moving into their new home. When DeAnne yells after seeing a stranger on her front porch, no one in the busy neighborhood bothers to check why a woman would be screaming. And so, the disturbing incidents continue: anonymous packages arrive in the mail, Step is stalked, children disappear, and throughout all of this, Stevie grows stranger and stranger, quieter and quieter, until you don’t even realize that he is there.
Lost Boys is a chilling novel with a disturbing end—one which made me profoundly grateful that the only thing dirty and lifeless in the darkness below our house is insulation.
High school horror, ages 13 and up.
You can buy this book here.