Eye Lake by Tristan Hughes

Welcome to Crooked River. Population 2851 and falling.

Eli has lived in Crooked River his whole life, and it was his grandfather, Clarence, who put the place on the map — quite literally, because it was Clarence who built the hotel around which the town later grew. Eli knows better than anyone, though, that nothing lasts forever: towns shrink, buildings fall into disrepair; people die or move on — or sometimes, just plain disappear. Even rivers can be dammed, land reclaimed, and lakes created . . . though Eli also knows that rivers are like dogs, and will always — eventually — find their way back home.

The same can’t be said for the people in Eli’s life. His father, uncle and grandmother are dead; he didn’t know his mother, and his grandfather Clarence walked to the river one day and never returned. Eli’s childhood friend, George, also went missing, back when they were kids, and has never been seen or heard of since.

Eli has spent years wondering about both Clarence and George. Now the river, its course diverted years previously to make way for a mine, is — true to form — returning ‘home’ and Eye Lake is receeding day by day. As the waters retreat, past secrets and mysteries are brought to light, and it seems as though Eli might finally learn what happened to his grandfather and best friend. Then a young boy goes missing, and Eli is suddenly brought back to the present . . .

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