Nick Graves is a miserable man. Every day he comes home from his dream job to a stale marriage. On the day he finally summons the courage to tell his wife, Eve, he wants a divorce she has exciting news for him - she's pregnant. Nick is a spiteful man. He purchases his dream home in an ideal location far away from family, friends, and coworkers. It's a life changing decision he's chosen to make without Eve's consultation. Nick is a terrified man. He quickly realizes the residents of his new hometown are a bit eccentric. After a trip to the local doctor's office Eve begins to behave strangely. And once Nick finds out what's really going on he'll never be able to look at Eve the same way.
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Delivers what it says on the tin...just barely!
Despite giving every appearance of being a horror novel, nothing all that horrific happens until the very end of the book! For most of its length, this is an occasionally amusing but mostly plodding tale of domestic discontent, involving a thoroughly nasty fellow whose plans to divorce his wife are thwarted by her unwanted (by the husband, at least) pregnancy.
This is essentially a short story padded out to novel length with a number of unnecessary scenes, such as one where the narrator meets with his boss about being permitted to work from home (this following a previous scene where the narrator meets with someone else at his company about being permitted to work from home), or one where the couple go grocery shopping and we're treated to a helpfully detailed description of their purchases.
To be sure, when the actual horrific events occur (spoiler alert -- they do involve Ritualistic Human Sacrifice), they are pretty gruesome and disturbing, but ultimately this is the literary equivalent of a bottle labeled "Grapefruit Juice" that turns out to contain only 5% actual grapefruit juice.
Flat Affect Theater
I guess I should have been upset at being sold a horror novel that turns out to contain very little actual horror -- and what there is of what one might recognizably term "horror" is mostly just erotica with some gross-out details thrown in -- but the egregiousness of this book actually amused me to the point where I enjoyed the experience. I was left feeling as if I'd been trolled, but with a degree of audacity that was at first startling, then astounding, and finally almost charming.
Is this a bad novel? Yes -- the writing is competent but unremarkable, the characters' behavior and choices defy all logic, and there are not merely gaping plot holes but several points where the author seems to have forgotten what she wrote just a couple of chapters earlier. As a piece of literature and as a horror novel, it fails in some critical ways. Yet, there's sort of a shaggy dog quality to the whole thing that almost redeems it. I can't in good conscience recommend this book, but I have to admit I did find it strangely compelling.
- Mister Pants