I recently finished a couple of excellent reads in the horror genre. I read the first of these, titled Good Neighbors by Russell C. Connor, on Kindle. I was drawn to it by the nice cover and the $0.99 price tag. I’d never read anything by Mr. Connor before, and I figured that I couldn’t go wrong at that price, even if it didn’t live up to the cover.
It lived up to the cover, and more. What I read was an excellent novel about a man who finds himself in the midst of a religious fervor, with people who grasp at the straws offered to them by a woman instead of facing the fact that they are being driven insane by the Squall, which is a weird sound being emitted by the electric transformers of the apartment complex where they all live.
The book was published in 2015, but I saw themes at work that apply to the world of 2019 also.
All that is well and good, but if there isn’t a great story with great characters, what good is it? Fortunately, this one has well-developed characters like Elliot, the alcoholic, recently divorced school teacher who is trying to put his life back together, and Jacob, the hardass kid who had Elliot as a teacher and has his own reasons for disliking the man. There are plenty of others to care about, and I found it easy to want to know what happens to these people.
I am definitely planning on reading more of Russell Connor’s work, and I’m hoping that it all lives up to the quality of this one.
The second read was House By The Cemetery by John Everson. I’ve read a lot of Mr. Everson’s work, and I think this might be the best and the scariest so far. In it, a carpenter is hired to shore up the supports for an old haunted house at the edge of a cemetery, which is going to be opened up as a “Haunted House” for the month of October. The legends abound around the house, and they are warned against bringing the house back to life and bringing people into the structure in large numbers. It’s predicted that something very bad will happen.
Mike, the carpenter, is a great character, in my opinion. He’s got real life issues. He’s gone through a divorce and he has some issues with alcohol (like Elliot in Russell Connor’s story) and he’s been going through some slow times with his work. He accepts the job of fixing up the haunted house to make it safe for people to trample through, because he’s down on his luck and needs the work. He also is starved for affection, and the story illustrates how he accepts the things he is asked to do by building up slowly, in effect, desensitizing him to things before the culmination. I don’t want to say too much to avoid spoiling it, but I felt that, like Connor’s work, there are themes at play here that reflect the particular travails that our society is going through today. I think it’s that thematic relevance that makes both Everson’s and Connor’s works so effective.
Everson’s book is published by Flame Tree Press, while Connor’s work is self-published. Both were great reads. I have more of both authors’ works to read, but I’m moving on to Stephen King’s THE INSTITUTE next.
Want to read about a group of friends at a cabin for Halloween? How jealousy gets the best of their gathering? How things can escalate to murder? Grab my novella, ODD MAN OUT, available only as an ebook on Kindle.