A tale with enough horror to carry the story but not enough to keep readers awake at night.

LIVED

Invading life forms come from deep within the Earth, not from outer space, in Nash’s debut novella.

A real geological phenomenon known as the Taos Hum helped to inspire this tale that blends sci-fi and horror. Creatures within the Earth come out of dormancy and prey on humans when the Hum stops. (The book doesn’t fully explain that sound, but curious readers may look it up online or elsewhere.) The on-and-off cycle for the Hum spans millennia, and no human remembers the creatures' last awakening. Clues of it remain in ancient art and mythology, and an understanding of it comes only to Gabe Peppard, an archaeology professor fascinated by the implications of the clues and disturbed by his lucid, terrifying dreams. Nash interweaves Gabe’s story with that of Don Marseilles of Valdez, N.M., the unlucky sheriff in the region in which the creatures emerge. The first hint of trouble comes when people start disappearing, beginning with little Emily’s mother. Emily witnesses the abduction but goes mute from shock and can’t help investigators. Eventually, she provides drawings of what she saw and, along with a second witness who lacks credibility, steers the sheriff toward the right course. Josh, the sheriff’s young-adult son, brings his father and Gabe together after finding the professor online and persuading him to contribute his knowledge. As they try to keep more people from disappearing and terror from spreading among local residents, the investigators face two big hurdles: accepting what the evidence points to and their ignorance of how to deal with it. This novella reads like a long synopsis of a good story idea, heavy on businesslike writing and extraneous descriptions along the lines of “he played a computer game for about an hour...watched a couple of You Tube videos that were the top ten for the day. He checked his e-mail.” The book lacks emotional intensity and fully developed, sci-fi creatures. Instead, readers must work to imagine the nightmare of being attacked by surprise and stored alive as food for the creatures’ larvae when they hatch.

A tale with enough horror to carry the story but not enough to keep readers awake at night.

Pub Date: July 12, 2012

ISBN: 978-1475263893

Page Count: 116

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2012

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

FAIRY TALE

Narnia on the Penobscot: a grand, and naturally strange, entertainment from the ever prolific King.

What’s a person to do when sheltering from Covid? In King’s case, write something to entertain himself while reflecting on what was going on in the world outside—ravaged cities, contentious politics, uncertainty. King’s yarn begins in a world that’s recognizably ours, and with a familiar trope: A young woman, out to buy fried chicken, is mashed by a runaway plumber’s van, sending her husband into an alcoholic tailspin and her son into a preadolescent funk, driven “bugfuck” by a father who “was always trying to apologize.” The son makes good by rescuing an elderly neighbor who’s fallen off a ladder, though he protests that the man’s equally elderly German shepherd, Radar, was the true hero. Whatever the case, Mr. Bowditch has an improbable trove of gold in his Bates Motel of a home, and its origin seems to lie in a shed behind the house, one that Mr. Bowditch warns the boy away from: “ ‘Don’t go in there,’ he said. ‘You may in time, but for now don’t even think of it.’ ” It’s not Pennywise who awaits in the underworld behind the shed door, but there’s plenty that’s weird and unexpected, including a woman, Dora, whose “skin was slate gray and her face was cruelly deformed,” and a whole bunch of people—well, sort of people, anyway—who’d like nothing better than to bring their special brand of evil up to our world’s surface. King’s young protagonist, Charlie Reade, is resourceful beyond his years, but it helps that the old dog gains some of its youthful vigor in the depths below. King delivers a more or less traditional fable that includes a knowing nod: “I think I know what you want,” Charlie tells the reader, "and now you have it”—namely, a happy ending but with a suitably sardonic wink.

A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66800-217-9

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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