I agree with you a lot on your thoughts. Overall I did still enjoy the book, and I know I read it very choppily over a loooong period of time so that gets into some of the confusion points I might mention, but I also know that the author also did some weird things related to the story as you also mentioned in your posts.
Kevin. Why? Completely unnecessary other than to reaffirm the psychic strengthening in the region? But far too much backstory and events with him to be completely not important to the story ultimately. I have a feeling in the original draft he was supposed to be much more important, but got edited down... just not well enough. I think that is the case with several elements. I liked that the mythos of the place was being fleshed out and the characters were strong and defined, but seemed pointless. There was so much time given to people that didn't matter or were killed early, etc. Maybe its the reverse, and this was a short story or novella that was added to to make novel length? Not sure.
There was a lot of King influence, which is I think something hard to get away from in this genre, but I wish people weren't so blatant at times. Especially since King is not the King people thinks he is... especially in the last few decades lets be 100 percent honest here.
So the one issue I had, was I was really lost on the timeline. For some part of the book I thought some of this was happening now and some in the past. So I was kind of surprised to find out this all took place in the past. I think this is more to do with the choppy way I read it than anything else but who knows.
Here is the other thing. The Jackson Hill book. I think it was an interesting part of the story, I liked how it was mapping with Peter and Sylvia. I am not sure why it diverted from that story and was kind of dropped. Am I missing something? It just seemed weird. No point to that author, no point to the book at all really. Why was it so on point with everything else but then so wildly different with their fates? That lost me.
I didn't mind the ending in regard to the Gishets. I am ok with them just existing and continuing. Again though, was setting it back so far in the past important? Is that a commentary on the Gishets have spread out to more of the world now? If so that wasn't clear at all.
Ricky was an annoying character, and I wish he was written better, but I did like the murder scenes and everything, there was a lot of good written there for him, just... missed the mark a bit in the dialogue or something. The interactions. I think we talked about it early on... Very King... something annoying about that. And yes, Gracie being a big part and then disappearring for a third of the book only to return to be such a big part of the end was weird.
And what was the point of the whole church massacre? It seems like a big culmination in the plans of the Gishet, but no real point or pay off for it.
I feel like I am really slamming the book, but utlimately I agree with the rating you gave, 2.5. I think I also gave it a 3 on goodreads, but I debated that hard. And now I feel like I should have went to 2.