The author is trying to replicate the Salem witch trials, but he doesn't show the complexity of a community run by fear or mob hatred. The villagers are fickle at best, but for the most part they are like puppets. The father makes a half-hearted attempt to free Kara and he has a welt on his face suggesting he tried to do something, but he completely falls apart after this event and is not developed as a character. The villagers are fine with Kara being tortured and murdered but then decide to say she's just a child and the Nightseeker declared her innocence so she should be free. Their form of justice is mostly blind acceptance. The villagers are flat characters that do not show their complex human nature or internal struggles over decisions the leaders make for them. The result is a didactic message that turned me off for much of the book. The girl is painted as a saint and the townspeople unjust. In the middle the mother's best friend shows some humanity and at the end, De'Noan does, but it was too little, too late.
Then there are the killings. And dismemberment. And torture. And bullies. I'm not sure if the author was trying to create a horror book or a fantasy book. I was horrified in parts. I know some readers will like being scared. I didn't see the purpose in most of the violence except to point out the craziness of extreme religious zeal. People are also killed willy-nilly with little or no remorse by the characters. Biddle dies (but no one liked him anyway.) Another character dies but he's mentally deranged after an incident and victimized by the villain. Sometimes Kara seems to have more compassion for the worms and insects than other humans. Then other times she is compassionate. I struggled with her inconsistent character development. I also think it is unfortunate the author made the villain disabled. It sends the wrong message. The end has an interesting twist that makes me really wonder about the villagers. Maybe they are under a spell? I know I won't find out. This heavy-handed tale was too much for me.