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Second Child (1990)

by John Saul

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752822,432 (3.68)23
Beware the second child. This lush, secluded Maine seaside resort is the summer playground of the superrich, but one hundred years ago, something disturbed their play. Horror came to this village. And though no one knows it yet, the horror has never left.   It waits for a shy young girl, outcast by her friends, her beautiful sister, even her own mother. She knows how it feels to be unwanted. She knows anger. And soon she will know the touch of unholy terror--and the rage of blood-drenched vengeance.… (more)
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» See also 23 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
When Charles Holloway’s ex-wife Polly and her husband die in a fire in their home, Charles brings his pretty daughter Teri (who has been living with her mother Polly for years) to his home at Secret Cove, to live. Charles is now remarried to a woman named Phyllis and has another daughter, in which he dotes on, called Melissa. Charles and his ex-wife Polly were raised with money and had been living in a posh town called Secret Cove. Polly didn’t like the trappings of wealth, moved away, remarried, and gave her money away. Years later, Polly’s daughter Teri resented this. She felt she should be at Secret Cove, receiving the finer things in life.

Teri arrives at Secret Cove and meets her shy half-sister Melissa (who is ridiculed and mocked because she doesn’t fit in… she’s a bit overweight, shy, plain.) Melissa is happy to now have a sister. She’s quite lonely. Add to that, she has a very cruel mother (Phyllis) who abuses her.

There is talk, told by children around campfires at night, about a ghost called D’Arcy who also didn’t fit in. A hundred years ago a terrible thing happened at the August Moon Ball. Now, on the anniversary of that day, is D’Arcy back for revenge?

John Saul really knows how to write captivating stories. I had a hard time putting this book down, I always wanted to know what was going to happen next. Some of the characters were very likable… Melissa, her father Charles, the maid Cora, and Cora’s grandson Tag. And some characters were really horrible. Especially Melissa’s mother Phyllis, the snobbish kids at Secret Cove, and Melissa’s half-sister Teri, who isn’t as sweet as she seemed. I also liked the setting of the coastal town.

Another engrossing and compelling read by John Saul. ( )
  SandraLynne | Jul 20, 2020 |
This isn't terribly written or anything. It's a DNF because I just couldn't go on reading about the physical and emotional abuse of the younger child in the book.
  Tara_Calaby | Jun 22, 2020 |
When 15-year old Teri’s parents die in a house fire, Teri is the only one to get out. She is collected by her biological father to go live across the country with him, his wife and their 13-year old daughter, Melissa. Melissa is considered by some to be a bit… strange. But she has good reason. (The back of the book doesn’t say much, so I don’t want to give too much away.) They are rich, but Melissa and her mother (Phyllis) don’t really fit in, though Phyllis certainly tries.

This was really good. I was pulled in at the start and it kept me reading and wanting to read. I was quite horrified and disgusted with actions of many of the characters and felt so badly for Melissa. This book has elements of both supernatural and psychological horror, both of which I “enjoy” reading. Just be careful reading through some of the reviews, as much more is given away than I think should be for this book. ( )
  LibraryCin | Oct 10, 2016 |
When Teri's parents died in a house fire, she moves in with her father(Charles), step-mother(Phyllis), and half-sister(Melissa). At first everything is going well for Teri. Although Teri is treated like gold by her step-mother, Melissa is being abused by her mother. One night Teri witnesses the punishment Phyllis imposes on Melissa.
After that night Teri creates a sinister plan to get rid of Melissa and taking her rightful place as the daughter of the Halloway Household.

I am a huge fan of John Saul's works and "Second Child" proved to be worthy of praise as well as Saul's other novels. Terry made me so mad! She definitely got what was coming to her in the end! ( )
  Carol420 | May 31, 2016 |
This is not the first novel of John Saul's I have read but as usual, I enjoyed it very much. at first it really didn't start out as a typical horror book but it truly did turn in to one. I would recommend this to anyone who is looking for a well written horror book. But then again, I have always been hooked on John Saul's work. ( )
  ladyofunicorns | Oct 4, 2015 |
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For Helen, Alison, and Marya
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When Polly MacIver awoke just before dawn that morning, she had not the slightest presentiment that she was about to die.
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Beware the second child. This lush, secluded Maine seaside resort is the summer playground of the superrich, but one hundred years ago, something disturbed their play. Horror came to this village. And though no one knows it yet, the horror has never left.   It waits for a shy young girl, outcast by her friends, her beautiful sister, even her own mother. She knows how it feels to be unwanted. She knows anger. And soon she will know the touch of unholy terror--and the rage of blood-drenched vengeance.

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Ostracized by her peer group and tormented by her cruel stepsister, Melissa Holloway finds solace in her friendship with the spirit of D'Arcy Malloy, a serving girl who died in her house a century before and whose tragically spurned affections mirror Melissa's own plight.
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