A small Texas town is thrown into turmoil when an upcoming Halloween party comes complete with infernal beasts and ceremonial sacrifice in this supernatural thriller.
A seemingly abandoned deputy sheriff’s car—and no deputy—is merely the start of strange happenings in Welles, Texas. Police Chief Frank Butler notes tracks leading from the car to Coventry House, home to elderly Harriet, Emma, and May. Of course, May’s not there when Butler questions the ladies, a young, sultry Megan in her stead. Rumor has it that the old women are witches, but the deputy’s disappearance could be due to his part in a federal investigation or the not-so-secret pot field on Coventry House property. Nevertheless, Megan telling Butler that “people are coming” is especially foreboding in light of the women’s forthcoming party—what they call Samhain. Sure enough, someone summons a demon, Leonard, who crawls out from below, followed by scores of Kobolos, tiny, red hat–donning creatures that look not unlike garden gnomes. Soon the chief’s dealing with a person’s head stuffed into a mailbox and rednecks battling gnomes in an all-out war and, eventually, a clash inside the local Wal-Mart. Samhain night reveals Borderland, a gate between realities where sacrifices take place. That, plus an inevitable confrontation between Leonard and the witches, is bound to result in plenty of death. The novel, despite an unmistakably cheeky approach, is decidedly adult. There’s blood, viscera, and severed heads, while Wal-Mart, as expected, stocks weapons like shotguns and saw blades. Shawn (Pantheon, 2014, etc.) delivers this in a frenzied style filled with action and zany characters while taking jabs at teen paranormal romance novels: 17-year-old Bitsy Johnson mistakes initially unseen Kobolos for abnormally speedy vampire Edward. The story’s hampered by occasionally vague descriptions (twins with a “Japanese anime schoolgirl Yakuza fashion sense”) and somewhat obscure references (someone resembling “the dead girl from the Asian horror movie, The Eye”). The final act, however, is a bevy of treats, from surprises, including the identity of acolytes who summoned Leonard, to the introduction of black magic’s counterpart in the form of Celestial, or white, magic.
Exuberantly irreverent; demonic beings and witches running amok have rarely been so funny.