Last year, I saw this title a lot – people seemed either very disappointed by it, or loved it. As far as the readers I generally trust, I didn’t have much hope in The Toll judging by their experiences with the book, so I ignored its release. Then, quite at random (as I’ve been with books this first month of the new year), I spotted The Toll in my library and read its opening chapter. The writing worked for me, and the brief synopsis got my attention enough that I decided to take out a loan on the book. Over the course of a week, I read The Toll in the midst of a five or six other titles.
For the most part, I really enjoyed the story. There were several intriguing characters and backstories to be found, and a mystery that held my attention up until the final fifty pages or so. You have a few interlocking paths moving forward in The Toll, including two elderly women and their adopted son, a man running the local bar without much memory of his past, and a young man in search of his new wife. It’s all quite interesting, despite the lack of horror. More than anything, I felt like The Toll was a supernatural mystery, and lacking in scares. But don’t get me wrong – I’m down for that. Horror is still a genre I’m dissecting (in search of what elements I prefer above others), so to find this title to be more of a what’s-what and who’s-who worked in my favor.
The intrigue of The Toll fueled me to its end; but alas, it spiraled a little in its finale. It’s not that I had a problem with the twist of it all – I didn’t – but the conclusion didn’t live up to its building momentum. The “end battle,” if you will, was sub-par in excitement and explanation. I wanted to know more about the other world beyond the veil, but we really don’t get much on that beyond the existence of ghosts and how that’s not the end to life.
If a sequel (or prequel) is planned, I will read it. There was enough to keep my interest in The Toll, despite the lackluster ending. Maybe the negative pieces can become positive through a future, attached story. Whatever comes of The Toll and its imagined world, Cherie Priest at least got my attention in her work. And for any author, that’s a win.