“Themis and his buddies celebrate the end of high school by taking a trip to, of all places, Grimhaven’s abandoned nuclear plant, where Themis’ insane grandfather, who religiously devoted himself to nuclear energy, worked up until the hideous accident that put the plant out of commission. When Themis and his girlfriend explore the plant at night, they discover that the plant isn’t as dormant as it seems, and the background radiation of Themis’ family history threatens to result in a full-blown sickness. The Grimhaven Disaster is a horrific, surreal and positively radioactive vision of what happens when youthful hubris clashes with the sobering decay of adulthood.” (Source: Goodreads)
The Grimhaven Disaster is a psychedelic romp through a surreal atmosphere. Lately I have read a lot of fantasy and science fiction, which leaves my thirst for gore wanting. Fortunately, this upcoming novella from Leo X. Robertson sates that need. It also feeds into my fascination with nuclear energy and radioactivity.
The length of a novella either makes or breaks a story. In some cases, it is nothing more than a tease. Such is The Grimhaven Disaster. Like most novellas that I enjoy, I feel this one could easily expand into a full-length novel. Doing so allows for more insight into Themis’s character while simultaneously giving Robertson the ability to better flesh out Socrates and his cult. Fortunately, Robertson does a fairly good job at accomplishing some of that in this short read.
It’s not perfect, because there are some aspects of this villain and his followers that leave me puzzled. For instance, elements of magic appear randomly thrown into The Grimhaven Disaster. While this adds to its surreal feeling, it remains unquestioned by Themis and his party. Here is where I feel this novella would benefit as a longer work. Socrates madness is so thorough and complete that he deserves more focus. Also, I wouldn’t mind more details on the disaster that decommissioned Grimhaven, either.
Robertson deserves a few props, too. For those that might not catch it, the incident at Grimhaven is a loose nod to what caused Chernobyl: complacency and failure to adhere to protocol, coupled with lack of proper training. There are more similarities, but I won’t get that technical.
Overall, The Grimhaven Disaster is a fun read. I look forward to seeing more of Robertson’s work (which from what I’ve heard, he has a short story featured in Monsters Exist, an anthology I’ll review from Deadman’s Tome).
I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.