Orphans of Wonderland was my first experience with a Greg F. Gifune novel. It was definitely not what I thought it was going to be going in. I was expecting a rampaging satanic cult story. He even references the 80’s satanic cult craze and Sally Jesse Raphael (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exWUeQ53ICg). So there are some mentions and nods to the devil-worship scare of the 80’s, but Orphans of Wonderland is more of a mystery/psychological thriller.
It reminded me, at times, of the movie Sleepers.
You have a set of five best friends who experienced something bizarre on a weekend afternoon when a black car appears to be following them. The car charges them and the next thing they know, they’re waking up in a field and telling themselves “nothing happened”. It is a mantra they’ll repeat and swear by for decades.
This present part of the story begins when one of the friends (Lonnie) dies. Lonnie’s daughter reaches out to another of the friends, Joel, a newspaper reporter (and former novelist) and asks him to find out who killed her dad. Joel returns to his hometown in Massachusetts and begins to uncover some pretty crazy stuff. That’s when the suppressed memories of what happened to Joel and his friends as boys begin to flash through his mind, and his surviving hometown friends are not overly excited about being forced to look back.
So, what did happen to them? Who killed Lonnie? What does Joel discover? Orphan‘s mysteries unravel at slow and steady pace. Gifune keeps you on the edge of your seat as he reveals just enough slivers to keep you turning the page.
There’s plenty of depth to this piece. Despite my initial let down in the lack of 80’s cult vibe, what Gifune delivers in its place is much meatier and very well written.
If you’re looking for something outside of monsters and serial killers, this would be a great novel to try.
I give it 4 stars!
Find all of Greg F. Gifune’s works on his Amazon page: HERE