At the end of a dark prairie road, nearly forgotten in the Kansas countryside, lies the Finch House. For years it has perched empty, abandoned, and overgrown–but soon the door will be opened for the first time in many decades. But something waits, lurking in the shadows, anxious to meet its new guests.
When best-selling horror author Sam McGarver is invited to spend Halloween night in one of the country’s most infamous haunted houses, he reluctantly agrees. At least he won’t be alone; joining him are three other masters of the macabre, writers who have helped shape modern horror. But what begins as a simple publicity stunt soon becomes a fight for survival–the entity they have awakened will follow them, torment them, threatening to make them part of the bloody legacy of Kill Creek.
When I open up a book, I’ve come to expect one of two things: a slow simmer with no reward, or something brimming with action. Rarely do I find one the former of those two to be worth the time spent building up to the climax. Scott Thomas’s debut novel, Kill Creek, defies those odds with an amazing payoff to its agonizingly long crawl.
One of the things I liked early on about Kill Creek is its homage to several different types of horror authors. The main characters, T. C. Moore, Daniel Slaughter, Sebastian Cole, and Sam McGarver, all represent different corners of the genre – and vastly different personalities. It’s a welcome relief from books filled with the same drab, rehashed characters of different names. (Seriously, I’ve read books where the main characters were pretty much identical and it’s a bore!)
In Kill Creek, Thomas takes a rather unusual approach to the whole haunted house thing. Rather than having a locale of note infested with ghosts, he takes slightly different strides: i.e., he personifies the house itself – a welcome respite from your traditional ghost stories.
I think my biggest issue with this book is its pacing. Several times I nearly put it down and many other times, I fell asleep reading it. That’s not to say that Thomas’s prose is drab – it’s not. Nor is the book a snoozefest. However, the first 70% of the novel is largely exposition and minor build-up. It’s not until the final 30% of the novel that things start to get messy and fun. Fortunately, Thomas’s ability to terrify, though more saturated near the end of the book, can be tasted subtly in that first, drier bit of his prose. (I had nightmares, y’all. Seriously.)
Because of that awfully slow burn, I can’t give this book all five skulls. I want to, and the last bit of the book nearly redeemed it, but to have more than half the novel filled with something that drags on so horribly is a nope in my book. Nonetheless, I know this man can write and I gladly look forward to more of his books.
I’d like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a free copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased (albeit horribly late) review.