Thursday, July 23, 2009


Blake Crouch is the author of Desert Places and Locked Doors.

He applied the “Page 69 Test” to his new novel, Abandon, and reported the following:
My new novel, Abandon, is about a mining town of the same name high in the Colorado mountains, where every last resident disappears on Christmas Day in 1893 (for you East-Coasters, think the Lost Colony which disappeared from Roanoke Island around 1590). My book interweaves two time periods….the last 24 hours leading up to Abandon’s vanishing in the past, and a present-day group that hikes into the ruined ghost town, hoping to solve the mystery of the disappearance. This present-day group includes a paranormal photographer, a psychic, a history professor, two backcountry guides, and my protagonist, Abigail Foster, who is a journalist.

Page 69 is an excellent representation of Abandon. This high-octane excerpt occurs in the present-day section, finding Abigail in a great deal of trouble. It’s her first night in the ghost town of Abandon, and the party’s nighttime exploration of the ruins has been interrupted by…well, they aren’t sure yet. But one of their guides has just been stabbed, another member of their party gone missing, and Abigail is literally running for her life from three shadows that have just emerged from the mist in pursuit of her.

Page 69 is the start of Chapter 16…


The ghost town screamed by in a blur of fog. Abigail glanced over her shoulder, saw movement in the mist, though she couldn’t tell if they still chased her. She had put a hundred yards between herself and the hotel when she veered off the main street and bent over. Having come from sea level in Manhattan, the thin air of Abandon crippled her lungs. She crawled through a hole in the side of a building, tried to turn on her headlamp, then remembered the bulb had burned out.

It took a moment for the faintest suggestion of shapes to appear—a table, dismembered chairs, tall windows, remnants of a stove. Abigail stood in the dancehall.

At the far end, the ceiling had collapsed and crushed a small stage.

Footsteps approached from outside. In quick, careful strides, Abigail traversed the rotten floorboards. Some creaked under her weight and she couldn’t help but think of the staircase in the hotel, how suddenly it had given way. She stopped where the floor had fallen through, looked back toward the double doors that opened out onto the street. Abigail couldn’t hear the footsteps anymore, only her accelerated breathing. The sound of whispering passed through the broken windows and something ran by on the street.

She dropped down through the hole in the floor, a nail catching on her parka, ripping through the sleeve, her pink fleece jacket, her long johns, all the way to her skin.

With less than three feet of space between the floorboards and the ground, she crawled away from the hole, through puddles of freezing water, until she found a dry spot.

Crouched in the darkness, shivering under the floor of the dancehall, she felt a warm trail of blood meandering down her right arm.
Read an excerpt from Abandon, and learn more about the book and author at Blake Crouch's website.

Check out the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue