Denise Barrett Caffey and Kim Davenport open their book, 616, with its setting: the peaceful small town of Woodbury, Tenn.—which happens to be their hometown as well. Though the town receives initial accolades from the authors as “the prettiest and best place on the face of the planet,” 616 soon takes a much darker turn.
Beneath the sleepy, idyllic surface of Woodbury, we soon find that all is not well: an old man struck by lightning 40 years earlier is hearing voices and seeing visions of the townsfolk being attacked by supernatural horrors. The mayor, friendly and popular on the surface, is revealed to have a dark and troubled past of abuse and violence—both given and received. In fact, a great many people in Woodbury are not what they at first appear.
The exceptions, perhaps, are the book’s three heroines. The trio come from backgrounds as different as three Woodbury girls can have: Blue is the daughter of poor laborers and now a preacher’s wife, Moss is the descendant of generations of moonshiners who has taken up the family trade and Erin is the bank vice president who came from a wealthy family. But despite these differences, the three have been best friends for years and call each other sisters—with all the traditions and in-jokes that three such friends can have.
The plot of 616 moves quickly: Blue, Moss and Erin are introduced and then drawn into the increasingly eerie goings-on in their town. First, Moss starts having realistic dreams and hearing voices at her hidden mountain still. Next, Erin’s dog is brutally killed and the police officer who disappears with her report—and the evidence—isn’t a police officer at all. Soon, the angels and demons who inhabit Woodbury just beyond the sight of most of its inhabitants become too real and too present to be denied, and the girls must join the fight to save their town—and the world—from destruction.
A popular aphorism says to “write what you know,” and Caffey and Davenport have certainly followed this rule. Many of the colorful places and events in their book are inspired by their own lives and, of course, their town. They weave these earthly happenings in with dramatic supernatural events without losing the sense of a real place in Tennessee, with people not that different from our own neighbors.
The tone is breathless at times, and the narration occasionally a bit too much “tell” and not enough “show.” Between the descriptions of domestic abuse that introduce the character of Mayor Joe and the final denouement between the forces of good and evil, this book lands firmly in the R-rated category. But if you’re looking for a thriller with a strong local flair, this is definitely the book to read late into the night—and keep an eye out for the sequel, scheduled to be released this fall.
For more information, or to contact the authors, find 616 on Facebook.
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