By Peter Lerangis.
We first meet David Kallas sitting on a hill above his hometown, Wetherby, which he claims to have destroyed. With him is Ariana Maas, the girl he loves. David recounts how he, a seventeen year old genius under-achiever, met Ariana for the first time during an earthquake and joined the yearbook committee to get to know her. One night, cutting through the woods on yearbook business, he stumbles across a dead body. Ariana convinces him to show Police Chief Hayes the corpse, and afterwards, Hayes recounts a tale from his youth about a schoolmate of his who went missing, in what he is sure was a racially motivated attack. He tells David that three white boys turned up dead shortly afterwards, and that this all happened just after the last earthquake hit Wetherby, in 1950.
When the finished yearbook arrives from the printer, David is horrified to find cruel, threatening poems have been included under several students’ names. This coincides with his discovery of an elite, secret society – The Delphic Club – led by teacher and yearbook co-ordinator, Mr DeWaart. Investigating further, David stumbles across a hidden basement under the school, covered in the graffiti of generations of students.
When David shows Ariana the basement, they discover something lurking even further below. From this point on, loose ends are tied up as David applies his genius brain to solving the mystery of what lies underneath Wetherby and what it has been doing to the town’s populace for generations.
To get a couple of minor gripes out of the way first: whilst the first person narrative helps to immerse us in David’s story from page one, the conversational, quippy style quickly gets annoying. Also, the finale is too long and confusing, and Ariana’s proposed ‘solution’ is more comedic than you would want or expect from a horror story. Apart from these minor issues, The Yearbook is one of the finest Point Horrors. It has a dense plot, with lots going on, and this can sometimes be tricky to follow. But it is always interesting and keeps us guessing the whole way through. David’s dreams about a boy called Mark, which are interspersed throughout the narrative, add another dimension of intrigue to an already fascinating story. We gradually realise how Mark fits into the story as each dream contributes another piece of the puzzle, helping us solve the mystery alongside David.
Thrilling, engaging, scary and memorable.
The Yearbook is genuinely frightening – people die and have been dying for centuries. What David and Ariana are up against is powerful, deadly and ancient, and we know from the beginning it has destroyed an entire town. The descriptions of the basement scenes in the finale are a little vague and it is not always clear what is happening. Nevertheless, for a reader willing to apply a bit of imagination, this lack of clarity actually contributes to the sense of disorientation, uncertainty and unease. It makes The Yearbook one of the most terrifying entries in the entire franchise.