Despite this, the townspeople corral the giant invertebrates and imprison them in a metal coffin before turning their attention on the Brinds, who they burn at the stake. Only young Peter Brind escapes, and swears revenge.
Flash-forward to what would've been the present day at the time the novel was written (1988). Felicity Cramer returns to Province with her boyfriend Paul to see her parents and brother just as technicians at the Corchoran Waste Site unearth the metal coffin containing the giant worms, which begin going on a rampage throughout town, their stings causing their victims to transform into giant worms themselves. Felicity, Paul and the Cramers' neighbor Bill Gable fight for survival as Province becomes overrun with the hideous worms.
Tropes used in this novel:
- Apathetic Citizens: Pretty much everyone in modern day Province except for Bill Gable is an apathetic jerk, including Felicity's own parents.
- Badass Grandpa: The Cramers' neighbor Bill Gable, a shotgun-toting old codger who blows apart monster worms like nobody's business.
- Baleful Polymorph: People pricked by the worms' stingers turn into giant worms themselves.
- Big Creepy-Crawlies: It's not called "The Worms" for nothing!
- Cool Old Guy: Bill Gable.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Mr. Corchoran, the owner of the Corchoran Waste Site.
- Covers Always Lie: The book cover suggests that the worms of the title are of a normal size, like in Squirm, when in fact they're quite large.
- Dead-Hand Shot: On the cover.
- Dirty Coward: Corchoran abandons the others at the waste site during the worms' initial attack.
- Infant Immortality: Averted (sorta) with Jeremy Cramer, who becomes the first person converted into a giant worm, but played straight with a little girl who Felicity and the others rescue from the worms later on.
- My Car Hates Me: The group tries to escape in Corchoran's Cadillac, only to discover it's out of gas because Corchoran was too much of a cheapskate to fill it up all the way.
- Patient Zero: The first victim of the worms is Felicity's little brother Jeremy, who went exploring at the waste site and got stung. He turns into a worm at the hospital and begins attacking people.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: The imprisoned giant worms in their metal coffin.
- Town with a Dark Secret: Province definitely qualifies, considering its history of accusing a family of witchcraft and then burning (almost) all of them at the stake just to steal their land.
- The Witch Hunter: Magistrates Corman and Breker fulfill this role in the prologue, accusing Granny Brind of witchcraft as part of a land-grab.