“Rebecca thought she’d find a hippie paradise when she moved to the desolate back hills of Humboldt County. A place to commune with nature and teach her five-year-old daughter how to live off the land. Instead she discovered a nightmare.
Coyote is a washed-up pot grower. Strung out on pills and dealing with dropping prices and looming legalization, he wonders if it’s even worth it anymore.
Diesel Dan abandoned his son for a life of methamphetamine and prison. Now he wants to make amends. He’s going to be a grandfather. But his son is on the same dark road of drugs and violence that once consumed him.
These characters will come together in an explosive ending that will leave you stunned and breathless. But more than just a gripping horror novel, Kind Nepenthe is a deep examination into the nature of love and greed, lost ideals, and the essence of evil in one of the last frontiers of the American West.” (Source: Goodreads)
Kind Nepenthe is one of those books I looked at on NetGalley for a while but couldn’t bring myself to request for the longest time. It just didn’t seem like something I’d over enjoy, honestly. If you frequent NetGalley though, you’ll notice the horror section of their available titles has been dwindling over the past few months. As a result, I finally ended up with Matthew V. Brockmeyer’s title and I can admit I am pleasantly surprised.
Aside from a single graphically sexual scene, Kind Nepenthe plays the horror genre safely. Brockmeyer keeps things significantly more tame than many of the authors I read, which means he’s got to make up for it in other places. In this case, the story itself is rather well developed – even if it does have a few holes. (Seriously, how’d the boy die, dude? You got ghosts you ain’t tellin’ us the deets on.) A few of the characters, or rather most of them, are almost offensively stereotypical. Diesel, one of the main characters, has a son who quite literally dresses like the photo you’ve seen of a kid wanting to look gangsta.
Now, I’m aware this sounds mostly negative, but in a way it allowed me to better formulate the type of behaviors associated with Brockmeyer’s cast. It’s not very complex, so for me to have read this book in two days means that Brockmeyer must have succeeded elsewhere in his work – and he did! The flow of Kind Nepenthe can be likened to the river that runs through Homicide Hill. It’s a constant, rolling movement from one even to another. Not hurried, but steady.
There are two separate stories that take place here and four different endings. Despite its lack of originality in characters, Kind Nepenthe manages to wiggle its way into the reader’s sympathies. I felt for Katie, the young, pregnant girlfriend of Diesel’s son. My heart ached for Rebecca, whose loneliness begins to eat at her as the story progresses. Even Diesel managed to find an endearing resonance with me, much to my surprise.
While I was hoping for a little bit more boo! than I received, I look forward to more of Brockmeyer’s work in the future. This book was a nice, relaxing read and I simply was not able to put it down. I’d like to thank the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an advance copy of this book for the purpose of review.