I wanted SO BADLY to like this book.  I wanted to find a new flavor of horror lit in Bram Stoker Award winner Jonathan Maberry, so I stretched and stretched myself to finish this thing in the headstrong hope that there would be some amazing stuff a page-turn away.


Now I'm mostly angry that:

(1.) I bought this book rather than using the amazingly and saddenly underused resource in America that most people are unaware of known as "The Public Library" and that...

(2.) I forced myself to stick it out to the end rather than obeying my instinct to put the damn thing down as soon as I had the itchy feeling (it's not fungal, don't worry) that I was loitering in an unwelcoming  world of piss poor Stephen King stereotypes.    

I know that this is harsh, but I put time into reading this and feel cheated.  Here's your TMI for the 2010: I even kept it near the toilet when I had a stomach flu in hopes that I could finish it given the reality that I would be spending many hours in the bathroom.  The worst thing is that I feel like Maberry writes like he is on the verge of a major breakthrough into something totally terrifying and genius.  There are points where his language is scathingly original and funny and relevant to the inner monologue of today's 20-40 somethings - and oh how I wanted that momentum to stick through the whole book, but the plot kept getting in the way.  I could not buy in, no matter what angle or position or literary lube I tried.   

W= 4
T = 4
F = 3

I should state that as a reader I'm pretty much an addict trying to get hooked on a new gateway drug.  Most of the time I counteract this behavior by deliberately picking out and looking for well-written (aka Bloodletter-tastic) reviews of books by new people.  I go through author phases where I attempt to read anything and everything an author writes once I've sniffed out something good in their books.  When I bought this book, I was hoping for another authorial revelation, a new world of someone's twisted horror mind that I could sink into on dark and stormy nights.  Alas, I found the plot to be kind of unmemorable though it tried hard to shock me.  I found the characters surprisingly flat given the level of background provided.  And I found almost no real girthy underbelly of thematic horror goodness that he had the opportunity to expose in his semi-bucolic Pennsylvania community.  I know the general area fairly well and a big part of my family lives there - it's fair to say that over the last thirty-fifty years, rural PA has undergone a dramatic transformation in dealing with the industry and population changes, loss of money, etc., and there's a lot of creepy shit he had the opportunity to play with in his little town that I just didn't see. 

This is his first novel, so there's room for improvement.  This is also why when I publish my first novel, it's going to be COMPLETELY ANONYMOUS and probably public domain so when someone rips me a new a-hole while I get my feet wet, I don't have to live it down.  Given my own rippery, I hope that the author takes that voice that I saw in pieces and expands that grasp to really pull in readers on all fronts of the stories he creates.  His potential is visible in this first book, but not altogether reached.


  1. oodlesofpoodles1/3/11, 6:38 PM

    Bwahaha! I enjoyed reading the parts with the rising scarecrow guy. That seemed to fit the plot of the country town with the cornfields and the commercial trade in Halloween gift shops. But you are right in that the part with the cops and the serial psycho ? whatever killer who kills old people ??? and the phili cops seems really out of place. Almost sounds fake-macho or something. I couldn't put my finger on it. I would probably give this a higher rating than something like "Initiation of Sarah", but you are right in the off-beat resemblance to King here.

  2. paint-by-number stephen king...yet not king.