The book I read today utterly surprised me.
Even with the introduction that the author, Drake Vaughn, gave with his guest post, “Help when you need it, on writing Horror.” In that post he said some really interesting things, including
Which I thought was really poignant, but I didn’t appreciate how deeply this thought motivates the book, until I read it. Now, I absolutely get it. So let’s talk about his book:
When the Devil Climbs
Written by: Drake Vaugh
Publishing info: Moon Lily Press (November 19, 2015)
Book Description: For years, Russ Grote has been stuck taking small steps to re-create the blissful life he threw away in youth, wishing to toss the former labels as drug addict and murderer. His dream is to reconnect with his estranged son, and Russ is willing to do whatever it takes; even if it means working a mind-numbing job hanging billboards with a motley crew of ex-convicts. If he plays his cards right with his ex-wife, tomorrow he will get the chance.
The day takes a twisted turn when a herd of pigs, infected with a mysterious virus, attack Russ and his fellow ex-convicts, forcing them to take refuge atop a billboard. With limited supplies, they hope to wait until help arrives or the pigs lose interest. Soon, it becomes obvious the bone-chomping monsters are going nowhere.
Help arrives in the form of trucks filled with men in fatigues, wearing gas-masks and toting rifles. Their dreams of rescue collapse when they receive assistance in the form of bullets flying from the would-be liberators.
After hours without food and water, the dark side of the human psyche creeps in becoming a more barbaric threat than ferocious pigs and gun-toting mercenaries.
Russ, determined to meet his son as planned, must face the biggest threat of all-confronting the harsh truth of his past.
When the Devil reaches his peak who will be left? [amazon]
When I get into a really good book, it is almost impossible to tear me away from it.I’ll sit on the couch and read it, wander into the kitchen and do dishes with one hand while reading it. Make a mess of brushing my teeth without putting it down, and- if it’s really good? I’ll even manage to shower while holding the book just outside of the curtain and read it through one soap-endangered eye- rather than put it down for 5 minutes. Now, please replace “book” in your mind’s eye with “Cellphone” (because it was a digital copy) and you’ll realize the depth of that particularly dedicated moment.
That was me reading this book. I literally would not/could not put it down until I was so exhausted that it slipped out of my hand onto the pillow next to me.
1 Phone call cracks open your heart
This story grabbed me from the get-go with it’s characters. Russ, our leading man, pulls you right in with his dilemma. He’s on the phone with his very upset ex-wife just trying to talk to his son, since he’ll finally be seeing him for the first time in years the following morning. And right after getting off the phone we’re whirled into the stresses of his day revealing just how dangerous some of his ex-con co-workers might be and placing cops directly in his path to work.
I actually stopped, for a brief moment, opened my my voice recording app and said,” It’s page 15, and I’m entirely hooked. I completely empathize with Russ’s struggle and I’m terrified for what the revelation of that weapon means going into this story.”
What kept me captivated the rest of the way through was the addicting pace of this book.
The team of billboard workers, which Russ is a part of, gets trapped on top of a massive billboard by a “drift” of horrifyingly smart and savage pigs. (Drift is apparently what you call a large group of pigs btw). The scenes directly following their entrapment were brutal.
The green snot dripping pigs are quite frankly, terrifying. Have you ever seen a full-sized pig in person? They’re huge! Imagine being attacked by something the size of a couch. Sure cute curly tails are involved- but you wouldn’t want to be in between a full-sized pig and it’s breakfast- or be it’s breakfast…
Blood, gore, tangible fear, and a desperate hope for the characters’ survival fuels this part of the book. And then it changes.
Those monsters Drake mentioned
After a certain point the creature-horror steps aside and the demons that haunt each character’s past come to the forefront. It’s at this point this book goes from riveting- to meaningful. The shadows of the past are explored in detail and- even though they’re trapped at the top of a billboard, we get a huge exploration into the worlds of criminals. Their struggles, their pains, the horrifying moments that haunt them. And once you think all hope is lost and you’re going to have to watch these characters shrivel up into beef jerky, the story changes again.
But these twists are too much fun to spoil. So I’ll stop here.
5 out of 5 Blood Spattered Stars – anyone into gore, science fiction, and/or stories that plumb the depths of the human psyche will absolutely adore this book. So much so, that you won’t be able to set it down, even if you’re trying to do the dishes … or take a shower.
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