I may have given up on supernatural/demon horror novels completely if not for The Many (The End is Nigh). After hitting many dead ends in these horror sub-genres that I used to crave, I had the unpleasant thought that nobody was writing anything good and I needed to move on. When I move on from sub-genres, it’s not permanent but when I return I have decreased enthusiasm and patience. Thank you Joe Stone for writing an exciting supernatural/demon horror novel and giving me renewed hope!
The Many is an ensemble novel in which we are first introduced to four characters with separate but related stories until all four meet each other and share the same story. Usually I wouldn’t recommend this style of writing because I can’t keep track of what events happened to what character, but in The Many the four characters are distinctive enough to remember who and what is happening overall. The four characters are Tommy (a high school student with no luck in getting the girls), Jason (a man with close ties to his mother), Amy (a married woman in search of other men), and Nick (a police officer). A recommendation: Follow Amy’s story the closest because she starts and ends the book. These four characters witness different aspects of the demonic virus but the thing they share is that the entities get into their heads and taunt them about their secret sins as a way to (attempt to) possess them.
By now you’re probably curious about this demonic virus. It’s not fully explained in the novel, but that just means we’ll have something to look forward to in the sequel. From what I understand, it has something to do with Lou Parsons and his grudge against the Lenton, Massachussetts community’s priest. Lou Parsons either summons demons or is a demon himself and his goal is to take over the community and make it his. His method is to use powerful body-hacking, landscape-changing demons to take over “regular” people’s bodies while he works on influencing Tommy, Jason, Amy, and Nick to do his most important work (which involves killing the priest). By the end of this book, Lou Parson’s reach has extended from Lenton to all over Massachussetts.
I said it in multiple places of this review and I’ll say it again, reading The Many was such a relief. It has elements of other pre/post-apocalyptic novels such as the world being normal one day and spiraling out of control the next and that the cause of the apocalypse is supernatural, but hen it offers a twist. The creatures have zombie-like qualities such as feasting on human innards and flesh, but they’re not zombies and they have more of a sense of consciousness. This is much more unnerving than reading about mindless flesh-eaters. I like that by the end of the novel, I was excited for the next book because I have no idea what direction it’s going to take. Sometimes predictability is comforting, but I don’t read the horror genre to be comforted. I like that I don’t know what’s going to happen next.
Since I’m excited and that hasn’t happened for a while, I feel safe in saying that if you are also a fan of supernatural/demon horror but you’re in a reading slump, you really should give The Many a chance. If you do, let me know what you think!
Have you ever read a novel that you’d been excited about from the first time you read a synopsis of it, only to be disappointed? The Nebulon Horror qualifies as this for me. It’s not a bad book, but it’s dated in its language and the style of writing feels restricted. The synopsis is accurate, but it would help considerably if it said “In this reprint of a 1980 novel…” so that readers have a better sense of how the time period may have inspired this novel. 1980 is not even what I would consider “old”; many fun horror novels have been originally published in the 80s and the reprints are just as relevant and exciting now as they were then. The Nebulon Horror is a “different” novel.
The plot of The Nebulon Horror is perfect for fans of the evil child and/or occult subgenre(s). At its most simple, seven-year-old children in a particular school in Nebulon, Florida have become evil overnight and the adults in the town need to stop whatever is causing it unless they want to be the next victims. The cause of this evil is the summoning of a long-dead and powerful human man’s ghost via a unique symbol that he responds to. There’s scenes that are violent and gory (sort of, a point that I will address more in-depth), but the bulk of the story is about secrets that this community keeps from each other.
One glaring thing about this book is that the plot is slow-moving. I was drawn to this book from reading the synopsis because I expected action-filled scenes with small interludes of characters being introduced or characters wondering “What’s going on?” Simply put, it’s the opposite. To be fair, the scenes with the evil/possessed children Jerri, Raymond, and their classmates were compelling. The first chapter of the book, for example, was Jerri’s first sign of possession when she accused her mother’s boyfriend of molesting her and physically ripped his face apart in self-defense but when pressed for details said she couldn’t remember what happened. The boyfriend survives his attack and becomes an integral part of the story, which I won’t spoil beyond this except to reassure you that he survives. This attack/kill and then claiming innocence is common among all the children; there are multiple scenes of a normally-shy Raymond committing grisly murders of people in the community for example. This plot point is why I kept reading in spite of feeling disappointed. When the kids are off at school or playing in the park and the focus changes to the adults, the plot becomes “draggy” and repetitive. If you want to skip to the big reveal, go to Chapter 25 and read to the end.
Some literature lovers may enjoy the writing style-here referring to the language and word choices- of The Nebulon Horror. As I said earlier, I thought the language was dated. To give you a concrete example, in the first chapter there is an odd way of describing the difference in characters’ speaking styles.
“Born in New England of European-born parents, Vin Otto spoke an oddly formal kind of English, at least for this rural Florida town where speech was usually as casual as an old shoe.”
Vin Otto has a substantial reason for his formality of speech, but there are other examples of writing that seems “off”. I have no idea what “…where speech was as casual as an old shoe” means, and it gets even weirder from there. The word “queer” used throughout the novel is synonymous with “strange” or “bizarre” rather than its more familiar present reference to sexual orientation/gender studies, which may interest word lovers but did in fact throw me a bit. When attractive women are described, there are euphamisms such as “well-proportioned”. The second grade teacher, who is only 27, shamed evil/possessed Raymond by calling him “You wicked boy!” These are little moments of writing that eventually add up. Vin Otto, the character with textbook English, is less “old” sounding than some of this writing. I get the sense that while this book was originally published in 1980, Hugh B. Cave wrote it much earlier. One other thing I wondered was if Cave wrote a more blunt draft of this book but had to censor some words or phrases so these odd choices were the best he could come up with. Either way, the writing style does not make for enjoyable reading.
After kicking around the good and the bad of The Nebulon Horror, I have decided that it’s not for me but others may enjoy it. I hinted at it when talking about the writing style, but a surprising audience for this book is readers that enjoy “wordplay” and seeing how language changes through the years. I don’t recommend it for horror fans, however.
Have you ever considered an anonymous secret-sharing application as horror reading? I know I wouldn’t have thought so but the app Whisper is scarier than any horror material I’ve read to date. To put it politely, I’m surprised 90% of the confessors aren’t in prison. Before leaving Whisper behind, I posted a few of my own confessions. It’s one thing to hear Tumblr and BuzzFeed users say that only “serial killers” use Whisper and quite another to experience it firsthand. Don’t get me wrong, my secrets were legitimate. I wouldn’t necessarily want to share them under my real name on an app that people used for hook-ups and worse but they were definitely real secrets. For the purpose of writing my review I’ll share a few not-so-personal secrets that I remember writing.
I love bloody, gory horror movies. I am a woman.
I had no intention of this being a turn-on. On the day I wrote this, I found a series of quotes about how teenage boys get their girlfriends to sleep with them by showing them a scary movie and freaking them out so bad they turn to their boyfriend for comfort. Screw that! I’m a huge fan of bloody, gory horror movies because they’re disgusting and stomach-turning. Of course, I don’t want gore just for the sake of gore. I will absolutely give low ratings to movies that are completely meant for shock value and nothing more. *Cough Human Centipede Two cough* However, I don’t shy away from it when it adds to the storyline. I do have squicks, but I’m a big girl. If I can’t handle it then I look away or put down my computer lid if I’m watching the movie that way. I sure don’t need to turn to someone else.
Within five minutes after posting this secret, I get at least three private messages from these teenage boys asking me where I live and when they should come pick me up? Really? Ugh!
I like to kiss my cats on the lips.
Surprisingly I got no weird comments for this one. All the comments followed the sentiment of “I love cats!” and “Same!” It’s weird that people are weird about every other topic except animals, and then they’re just a flurry of “Oh my god, so cute!”
I like reading about mass muderers, morbid as that sounds.
I was totally asking for the creepy comments with this one, but there’s also a story behind why I posted this secret. So I’d bought a few books on my Kindle that related to teenage mass murderers. What an interesting subject! I’m a Criminology student as well as an English student. If the college and the department were better funded and had more options for specialized classes based on interests, I would absolutely want to focus on juvenile delinquency! This is one aspect of it. I don’t know what sparked my interest in “evil” kids but it’s like the one type of non-fiction reading I love. Okay, here’s the problem: People think that if you read about it, that obviously means you want to be like the people you’re reading about. This is 100% false, but of course you can’t reason with them. People get weird about subjects such as mass murderers. I posted this secret because it’s an unpopular opinion and requires loads of justification.
Not all the comments were creepy. Some comments served as reference material for future reading. If you give me the name of someone I’ve never heard of, I totally want to know who they are and what they did. Some comments were in agreement. It turns out that otherwise normal, well-adjusted people are just as interested in the subject as I am.
Then you get the really weird comments. I got offers to meet people who were apparently planning their own mass murders. Some people thought it was perfectly normal to tell me “I’ve been dying to commit this particular crime! Read about me!” Ummmmm, no thanks. Oh, never mind the people who, once again, wanted to hook up with me. Ugh!
I do believe in a parallel universe and parallel Jessica. I bet she’s living in a ritzy apartment with a prestigious career and living a dream life.
This was actually my reply to someone who was questioning the existence of parallel universes and parallel selves. I didn’t officially give them my name because, as above, creepy people, but I did share this thought. This person sent me a very involved private message. It was actually quite philosophical, but a little weird to ask someone you never actually met. Essentially this person said I was the only respondent that sounded disconnected from myself by referring to my parallel self as “she” instead of “me”. To me, it really is “she”. Even if Parallel Jessica is technically me, she isn’t me. She’s nothing more than an alternative that never will be. Why should I identify with her? Of course, I’m not going to explain this to someone I don’t know. It is something I might blog about in a completely different blog but definitely not something I’d share on Whisper.
To be fair, I walked into that one by typing that spacy-sounding response.
I don’t know how to officially rate the Whisper app. It’s effectively creepy reading material because it’s real. You know how when you read a solid horror novel and it’s unsettling for maybe a few days? Whisper gave me that feeling every time I checked in. I used it for a good month until I learned it was draining my cell phone battery and using my monthly data allowance. That was literally the only reason I stopped reading it. On the other hand, Whisper is creepy because people who only know you by your secrets want to date you. If they knew me in real life, I don’t think they’d actually notice me. It’s not real, if that makes sense. And let’s not forget that if you confess about your interest in horror and murderers, you can get personal messages about people who aspire to be murderers by luring in other horror fans as victims.