This was a tough one. On the one hand, it was a clever twist on the typical "cannibal hillbilly" tale that's been done to death in recent years. Instead of being just a bunch of inbred/mutated creeps in the forest who hunger for human flesh, they were a bunch of inbred/mutated creeps in the forest who hungered for something much more important. I don't want to give away what, exactly, but it was fairly clever, and made me keep going well into the book.
Unfortunately, the rest of the book left me a bit cold. There were numerous typos and grammar problems, which constantly jarred. More importantly, the story itself was one of those "horror" stories that seems to put its characters through a meat grinder for no other reason than to see them bleed.
There's a thin line between examining evil and celebrating it; between looking at the depths of human suffering in order to show the heights of human triumph... and just introducing new ways to torture people, without providing a compelling reason why, other than "because it'll be fun." I admit this is a totally personal thing on my part, but in this case the story seemed to lean toward the latter, and had (to me at least) a decidedly mean-spirited tone. I know that sounds strange - it was
a horror novel, after all. But contrast this to, say, The Shining
or The Talisman
, stories that put their characters through the wringer, but also lead them into the light of redemption. Call me old-fashioned (I'll take it as a compliment), but I like a bit more depth to my horror.
Also a bit jarring was the fact that so many characters just happened to be in the exact place where they could fight their deepest fears. I get that this is a tried and true means of getting through a character arc, but at the same time it seemed overly coincidental and forced. And there was one last-minute revelation about one of the characters that came out of nowhere and seemed like the author just tossing one more curve ball at the readers because it would make us jump. Unfortunately, the twist wasn't set up properly or (to me at least) paid off well. It just made me like a character in retrospect much less, without adding much to the narrative.
On the plus side, I did
read the whole thing. It was a fast, slick read, the kind of thing you could easily see made into a movie with a very hard R rating, something that would spawn endless direct to video sequels and play ad nauseum on SyFy and USA after two in the morning. The author is clearly talented and clever, and I'll give him another shot. This particular story wasn't to my liking, and if the next one has the same ugly tone (and typographical problems) that'll probably be it. But enough went right
to warrant a few more dollars out of my pocket for another chance.