"HAWKES HARBOR," by S.E. Hinton, Tor Books, 251 pages, $21.95.
S.E. Hinton has grown up. She isn't writing about such disenfranchised and restless youths as Tex McCormick in "Tex," Dallas Winston in "The Outsiders" or Rusty James in "Rumble Fish." Instead, she has written about a disenfranchised and restless adult named Jamie Somers in her new novel "Hawkes Harbor."
Hinton still uses the bad-boy-with-a-heart-of-gold formula, but in Somers' case, Hinton has added huge chunks of sex and violence in the prose.
Yes, this is NOT a teen novel.
A side note, here. Jamie Somers is not to be confused with Lindsay Wagner's TV character "The Bionic Woman."
Then again the name of the main character isn't the only unoriginal thing in this book. There are storyline similarities throughout "Hawkes Harbor" to another TV program, and gothic/horror fans will pick up on it right away — "Dark Shadows."
In fact, this could have been a "Dark Shadows" book.
Somers could be Willie Loomis. Kellen "Kell" Quinn could be Jason McGuire. Katie Rodendem could be Maggie Evans. And Grenville Hawkes could be Barnabas Collins.
It's that blatant.
Grenville Hawkes is a vampire. A sadistic vampire, who not only keeps Somers as a slave for years, but sees Rodendem as an image of his long dead wife, Jossette Collins . . . er, I mean Sophia Marie. (Incidentally, Sophia Marie's ghost haunts Grenville Hawkes' home, which is legendary throughout Delaware for being a strange place with an evil past. Sounds a lot like Collinsport, doesn't it?)
Keeping with the cliches and the "Dark Shadows" storyline, Hawkes has recruited an unwilling Somers to help carry out a plot to meld Rodendem's body with Sophia Marie's ghost. This book is so much like "Dark Shadows" it's scary . . . but not in a gothic/horror way.
It's scary to see that Hinton has run out of ideas. That's not to say her earlier books were all originally independent from each other. But instead of borrowing from herself, now she's borrowing from "Dark Shadows." Can she do this without fear of legal repercussions?
It's been about 15 years since Hinton has written a novel. Back in 1995, she wrote a couple of children's books, but this is her comeback full-length novel, and it disappoints.
Somers may be a flashback-riddled former smuggler/vampire slave locked up in an asylum, but he's the most one-dimensional character Hinton has created. And her vampire is more like an abusive parent, even surpassing the dysfunctional relationships of the creatures of the night in any Anne Rice novel.
And S.E. Hinton is no Anne Rice.
Some readers will keep reading only to satisfy their morbid curiosity. Others might find the will to put it down and let the story rest in peace.