Brain Keene is one of my favourite horror writers. That's just a fact. Pretty much anything he writes, I read. Some of his books are the most memorable scarefests I've ever come across, from the zombie extravaganza THE RISING, to the wormy squirmy horrors of EARTHWORM GODS (aka THE CONQUEROR WORMS). Another favourite of mine is the coming-of-age terror trip GHOUL. And of of course DARK HOLLOW (aka THE RUTTING SEASON).
Recently Keene's backlist has been getting the reissue treatment from small trade paperback publisher Deadite Press. Among those to see the light of day once more are A GATHERING OF CROWS, TAQUILA SUNRISE, TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME, DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN and URBAN GOTHIC.
I read URBAN GOTHIC when it was first released as a limited Edition via Bloodletting Press in 2009. While I enjoyed it back then, it didn't knock me on my butt. Admittedly, that was about the time I was starting to lose my interest in reading straight up horror. While I didn't completely abandon reading horror novels (I certainly kept up to date on anything Brian Keene or Bryan Smith put in print) I felt myself being pulled in new directions, particularly towards high octane thrillers and crime fiction.
Recently, I've been bit by the horror bug again and while browsing through the Deadite Press catalogue (and cringing a little at the gory and disgusting cover art by Alan M. Clark) I spied that ol' URBAN GOTHIC. So, I did something which makes my wife pull out her hair. I bought myself a copy of a book that I already own. It's a sickness, I know.
I've come to realize that time and circumstance can have a vast effect on one's reading experience. Obvious, right? As I said before, the last time I read URBAN GOTHIC I really wasn't feeling it. While I enjoyed the story and writing, it just felt old to me. But you know what they say, everything old new again (or something).
This time through the circumstance were perfect for reading something dark and scary.
For starters, it's Halloween season. It's cold and wet outside and the wind is blowing, moaning through the trees all along the street. This is the perfect setting for reading a book about a bunch of teenagers stuck in an old Victorian mansion with a clan of hungry mutant monstrosities. There are a lot of truly gruesome scenes between the covers and a big handful of frightening moments.
Keene has called URBAN GOTHIC a homage, or tribute, to the delightfully gruesome writings of Edward Lee and that it certainly is. However it put this reader more in mind of Richard Laymon's MIDNIGHT'S LAIR and his Beast House trilogy. And anyone that knows me, knows I love Richard Laymon.
If you're still looking for your Halloween read, you got time to order this one from Amazon before the big night. Just don't let your kids see Alan M. Clark's cover! My wife wasn't overly thrilled when I accidentally left it face up on the stairs where the kids could spy Noigel in all his pubic gory, er, glory.