Monday, August 4, 2014

Spook House (Seventh Star) by Michael West



Sometimes, I want a story that is deeply intellectual. A sprawling, intense experience that forces me to second guess all of my assumptions about life, the universe and everything. Sometimes I want to be emotionally rended with prose that cuts deeply into my feely-feels. And sometimes, I just want to read a fun story about big bad monsters that lets me forget my crappy life for a little bit.  Spook House fell pretty clearly into that last category.



The old Fuller Farm. You know the one. Where that crazy so-and-so killed those people before tossing himself into a thresher. It seems he nudged open a door to someplace else when he did that and the door is about to be kicked wide open. Welcome back to Harmony, Indiana, folks.



Let’s get this out of the way. I didn’t find anything groundbreaking here. It’s a pretty straightforward Lovecraftian horror, albeit with a bit more focus on people and plot than Howie was known for. It won’t change any hearts or minds and won’t blow apart and expectations. All the same, I don’t think that is what Michael West aimed to do.



What I did find is butter-smooth prose and a razor-keen sense of how to draw out suspense. I found a story that pulled me along the shoot like a greased up pig and plenty of greasy-grimy people guts decorating the scenery. I even found myself caring about the main characters a bit and was quite impressed at how whole and solid he makes this little slice of Indiana feel. I haven’t gotten this strong of a sense of the personality of place in a while. Most importantly, I had fun. That’s all that matters here.



The best analog I can think of is AC/DC. Michael West doesn’t change anything about horror fiction any more than those limeys changed Rock N’ Roll, but only a soulless bastard doesn’t get excited when they here that introductory clang of Hell’s Bells.




Artwork: Not a whole lot to say, since it is a pretty straight forward representation of the story inside. Mathew Perry does evoke some of those old B-movie posters and the little boy joy that takes me over in the wake of those images. It’s also worth noting that there are two interior pieces to show you what the big bads look like. They carry the same style and feel.


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