The other day I decided that I am going to at least attempt to finish reading the horror novel I started…two weeks ago (hey, two weeks on one book is a long time for me if it isn’t a textbook or something the size of The Book of the Damned by Charles Fort)
I can’t do it. I’m 63% through the book and…I just can’t. (I’m calling this a half-review because I didn’t finish the novel. this…turned out lengthy)
The book is: The lurking Season by Kristopher Rufty.
Pretty much, it’s basically:: Small town, going under like some small towns do, have traditional…fair-folk who terrorize the outlying farms.
Sounds great, right? Well, it intrigued me enough to want to add it to the kindle. It starts off generically enough (girl “sneaks” boy into house, gets set up for a “movie night” and drama ensues) and a new chapter starts.
Each chapter is titled with a main character’s name. If you’re not familiar with the A Song of Ice and Fire series (Game of Thrones), it can be kind of strange. For certain parts of the story, it makes sense: we have girl from the first chapter in a different area than the girl in the second chapter. But, while GRRM does things within those chapters (like Jaime’s inner mantra), it doesn’t make much sense for some of these. I really don’t need a handful of chapters bouncing from character to character when they’re at the same place.
Also, what gets me is that this is less than 300 pages, why do I need almost 10 “main” characters?
During this, we have things called “Haunchies.” The most description I’m able to gleam from this is that they’re magical hobbit ninjas with killer nails. Within the…27 chapters I have read, this is the best description I have. The most that I can remember of any sort of description is: they live in the woods, they’re small, and they look like living straw dolls. After one character gets captured, we learn: they eat humans, use human women for breeding purposes, and therefore share at least some of the same genetic code as us humans (because basic science teaches us about crossbreeding).
So, traditional fae, sans the whole “women are only useful for breeding” thing. The whole idea of someone writing a story about the shining ones and using the tradional “they will eat you, dummy” was really fascinating.
I have spent more time skipping through paragraphs of sex than should be necessary in a basic horror novel. I told Jamie that it was like reading the novelization of an 80s slasher film because it really is::
We just met, let’s have sex! Oh, the power’s out mysteriously, we should have sex right here!
Jamie’s response was: “Oh, so you mean a basic pulpy 80s horror novel.” Yep.
I don’t read horror for sex and I don’t go looking for fictional horror to read about rape. If it was one or two sex scenes, I could skip over it and keep going. But when you spend more time describing a sex scene, or even a rape scene, in more explicit detail than you bothered to use on your scenery or even basic characters, then I’m done.
I don’t need to know that some character practically gets naked so she can fuck a guy she just met that day and then uses the “opportunity” to have sex with her later as a lure to get the idiot to go out on a walk through Haunchie territory.
I don’t need to know all the details of “The Watcher” raping a girl and the constant references to how “perfect” her boobs are. I don’t need to know any details of that. There is enough of that in reality that I do not need to go into fantasy-land and read more of it.
I read horror for horror’s sake. Funny, weird, gorey, suspenseful. You can easily use your words to imply things have happened or are going to happen without using explicit detail. If I want to read something like that (consensual sex), I’ll go read Maggie Shayne or I’ll go and read me some fanfiction because I can guarantee you, it’ll be written better and I’ll know what I’m getting into instead of being sideswiped with the erotica version of a cheap summer thriller.
And then, there are some things about the setting itself that kind of bother me.
So, you’ve bought a falling-down farmhouse. Well, I assume it’s a farmhouse by the lack of description besides the house is falling apart and that used to be a corn field. You’ve bought a house that you plan on converting into a recovery center out in the middle of nowhere. Ok, I’m on track with this. It happens. People like to help others and purchase property where they can. After a while, we’re told that it’s a 2-storey house because people “chose rooms upstairs.” Uh…can I get a layout?
But you’ve set your characters up in a house where the only heat available is the fireplace and whatever blankets they can scrounge up (let’s not forget human heat, hur hur). And you’ve got them going to this house, to repair it, two days before a snowstorm.
Why?! Why would you do this? Does it help with the ambiance? Does it help so you can rip apart one of your characters? Does it feel more terrifying when you’re inadequately prepared for such a normal phenomena that your characters conveniently forget how to do things like prepare?
And how do you get from “It’s been three years” and “This house wasn’t touched by the fire” to “this house is so run down it should be condemned”? I’m trying to figure that one out because, from personal experience with our house, it was unoccupied for 2.5 years and was built almost 90 years ago. Some of the stuff is strange, and most of the rooms stay pretty cool during summer. So how is the house in the novel so dilapidated that wind creeks and acts like it blows through the walls?
Seems kind of weird to me.
The concept/idea seemed really cool and I wanted to keep reading it, but…no. Just no. I can’t do it. I don’t care if “The Watcher” gets mangled or there’s a beautiful scene of viscera. I have no empathy for these characters that the author has created. I loathe these characters.
The other night, when I was just at 60% of the story, I was rooting for the Haunchies. But now, I’ve barely gotten through another chapter, and I could care less. I tried, but I also started 5 other books after I started this one, two of which I’ve read dozens of times before.
I could try another novel by the author, but I don’t know if I will. He’s got a handful of them and that’s pretty awesome, but I’m a bit wary. (and hell, I had more fun using alternate names for fae than I did reading what I slogged through.)