I have a feeling that this probably wasn't the best of McCammon's books to start with... or, at least I hope that's the case. I was less than impressed with this one for much of the time it took to get through it, and while I guess it was interesting enough (as in I was interested enough to continue on and see what happened), I didn't really ever feel invested in the story or the characters.
Perhaps it was the fact that I listened to this as an audiobook, a recording from tape circa 1983 or so. The reader was... distracting. He kept reading in a much different tone than I felt that the particular scene or situation warranted. Usually someone sounded wheedling or manipulative or threatening in this man's voice, when I feel that I'd have read the scene without the overtones of menace. Sometimes a question is just a question, not an unspoken threat.
There were a lot of "Am I right?" and "Is/isn't that right?" questions and every time - EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. - he read one of them, I'd picture the asking character with their head tilted inquiringly, a fake smile plastered on their face daring the person to contradict. Go ahead. See what happens.
And then there's the pronunciations. Oh man. Grimace was always "Grim Ace" and La Mesa was always "Luh Meesa". Luh Meesa. Really. It was just distracting. Because every time I'd picture fucking Jar Jar Binks.
Ye gods, whatta meesa sayin'?
Yeah, so... aside from that stuff... I don't have much to say about this. I wasn't shocked by the revelations in this story. Rather than being a twisty mountain road with sharp, unexpected turns, this was more like a go-cart course - predictable and tame... I may not have been on THIS particular course before, but they are all pretty much the same.
I've seen the twists, the symbolism, the circular references, the good vs evil, the religiosity all before.
This story just felt formulaic, and so it wasn't really scary or particularly impressive. Maybe it's because the book is almost as old as I am and I've read a lot of other (better) horror before this. That's plausible, but then I think of stories like Richard Matheson's "I Am Legend", William Peter Blatty's "The Exorcist", or Ira Levin's "Rosemary's Baby", stories that are just as old (older, actually) and still amaze and terrify.
But I finished it and overall didn't loathe it, so... 2 stars. Maybe Swan Song will be better?