Title: Cainsville Files
Cost: 3.99 (introductory price)
What do you get when you cross a graphic novel with a choose-your-own-adventure book and play the whole thing as video game? You get an interactive story app. Add a best-selling author, a World Fantasy and Hugo nominated artist, and a soundtrack that recalls Twin Peaks and you get Cainsville Files.
The app’s story was written by Kelley Armstrong, author of the Darkest Powers and Darkness Rising series, as well as co-author with Melissa Marr, of middle grade series The Blackwell Pages, and several novels for adults. Armstrong also designed the gameplay, working with creative design company Inkle. The story focuses on young private eye, Jenn McCoy, who is searching for her missing high-school sweetheart, a possible victim of the Valentine Killer. Her search brings her to the mysterious town of Cainsville. As a player, you navigate through the choices of Jenn’s investigation, brining her closer to answers, a possible romance, and ultimately justice. Navigate correctly, and you’ll solve the case, make a wrong move, and you might bring about the protagonist’s demise. Illustrations by Julie Dillon give the app a cohesive visual theme, while speech bubbles and text boxes make the reading experience feel like a graphic novel.
Cainsville Files serves as a prequel to Armstrong’s forthcoming novel Omens, which will bring Olivia Taylor Jones to Cainsville to find out the truth about her birth parents, convicted serial killers, Todd and Pamela Larsen. The protagonists of both the app and the novel are in their twenties, and Omens will be marketed as an adult book. This got me thinking a bit about the recent discussion of literature for New Adults. Perhaps Cainsville Files is an app for new adults. Still, older protagonist or no, the app’s slightly creepy tone and paranormal-tinged mystery plot will definitely appeal to teens, as will its interactive storytelling. Give this to reluctant readers, Kelley Armstrong fans, teens who like to read on their phones, and fans of crime drama and mysteries.