Make the most of the present by sinking into these two excellent horror fiction books about the ways in which our past can haunt us.
Finding a novel to read can be time-consuming and not just because there is such a wealth of material to choose from. Dedicating yourself to a full-length book is a major commitment. Few things are more disappointing than carving out precious hours to lose yourself in the pages of a fiction novel only to find it underwhelming, poorly developed, or just plain boring. Since we’re in the thick of Summer reading season when so many of us are taking time to unwind — perhaps with a good book on a sandy beach somewhere — we want to make sure you find the perfect read for your recharge.
For this month’s featured fiction titles, we’ve got two recently released novels that are definitely worthy of your time.
1. Those You Killed (Christopher Badcock)
Suffering from intense withdrawal and plagued by nightmarish visions, Elwood will confront the past of a once-bustling vacation spot, Lake Chance, and in doing so, uncover parts of himself he lost at the tip of a needle.
In his fiction novel debut, Christopher Badcock comes out swinging with a story and prose that feel as though he has an entire catalog of books already published. From the first page to the last, the author builds up a setting that is as much a character as Elwood Cathis, the book’s protagonist.
Taking the POV of a once bestselling author who has fallen to demons of a needle, the reader follows Elwood Cathis on his journey to cut the habit. He is sent to Lake Chance, a small vacation spot that is now in its own death throes, where he can suffer through his withdrawals in peace. However, it is never that simple. Between battling his own demons and those of Lake Chance, the reader is dealt a tension-filled narrative.
The prose is punchy, a blunt and honest look at what withdrawals can be, but also playful.
From snarky characters that give it a sense of realism to visceral imagery that quite literally haunt the character, Badcock fills the book with lines that’ll have you smirk and shiver at once.
2. To Dust You Shall Return (Fred Venturini)
A town ruled by evil. A man ruled by darkness. Only one can survive.
Following in the theme of the past haunting the present, To Dust You Shall Remain centers on a town ruled over by their past. Harlow is a town where no one is allowed to leave, where the town is ruled over by a sinister overlord known only as “the Mayor” and his dedicated followers.
This is a very interesting book. Following two leads – Curtis Quinn, a Chicago mob legend on a mission for revenge, and Beth Jarvis, a teenage resident of Harlow with her own penchant for rebellion — the author manages to match his writing style to whichever character he’s currently in the shoes of.
Curtis Quinn is a man with a past who had found love and had it taken from it. As such, Venturini writes him with a pulpy action feel. He hits all the action cliches and then manages to subvert them in a way that feels natural to the character that he has created.
Beth Jarvis is a teen who is in her own rebellion from the family and town, and it is with her that we see the author’s shift into something that’s a bit more thriller with a horror always lurking in the shadows. It’s through both of these characters that the town Harlow, and its many residents come to life. Each fills in the blanks for the reader, creating a steady mix of action and horror, keeping the story fun and the mystery alive.
The past haunts us all. Sometimes it comes to life and comes for us — be it in an astronaut suit, decaying corpses of those we’ve created, or as a lurking monster with power untold. These demons can be confronted, of course. Sometimes we just need the right stories to help us do so.