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Mark Matthews latest contribution to the horror fiction genre, On the Lips of Children plays on a similar theme as his first novel, Milk-Blood. The theme of addiction. This is a refreshing and much needed turn in the realm of horror fiction. Although the novel’s cover gives the impression of the “supernatural” the story is anything but, and has a very plausible scenario.
The story takes place in southern California between San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico. Actually, underneath that location, in one of the many drug smuggling tunnels in that region. A young, yet to be wed couple, Macon and Erin, along with their child Lyric are visiting San Diego for a marathon they plan to run.
Macon decides to go for an early morning jog toward the ocean when he finds himself snared by a subculture of homeless folks that are doing the bidding of a family that lives in one of the smuggling tunnels connecting So-Cal with Tijuana. Erin and daughter, Lyric soon follow this same path in search of Macon.
Donte and Lupita along with their children Q and T have been living in the tunnel for years.Since the birth of Q and T. Their life is taking hostages (via a network of homeless people near the mouth of the tunnel) for money and and other “resources” to keep up with Donte’s addiction to “Salts” (which I presume are “bath salts”). Donte is severely brain-damaged and deranged as a result of his drug use. Lupita has had to use whatever means possible to keep her boy and girl alive.
Darkness descends on Makon, Erin, and Lyric as the rock-bottom results of drug- addiction and subterranean survival rears its ugly, monstrous head.
The mood of On the Lips of Children is somewhere between the movies Sicario and The Hills Have Eyes.
What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?
To me, this was more of a dialogue than a novel. The way the story was structured I never felt involved in it or the characters. It was just a bunch of people saying stuff. If story texture is important to you, this may not be for you, either.
What do you think your next listen will be?
It WAS Girl on a Wire.
Would you listen to another book narrated by Bob Dunsworth?
I couldn't get engaged in the story so I didn't give much attention to the reader. So I guess he was fine because I only fault the story. I probably wouldn't have forgiven a poor narrator too. So yes, absolutely I would not be put off by his narration.
If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from On the Lips of Children?
Seriously, I wouldn't have even published it if I were an editor. The format and the lack of depth that I perceived would have turned me away completely.
Any additional comments?
I very seldom say a book is bad because I'm sure someone out there will like it, it's just that I'm not that person for this book. If you like a book that really draws you into it by having the depth and detail to paint a mental image of you being one of the characters, this may not satisfy that sweet-tooth.