Reading this book reminded me why I love Instagram and the book community that exists there there. Without those amazing readers and people, I don't think I ever would have known about this book, and what a shame that would have been.
This book has been quietly making the rounds on social media since its Halloween release last year, growing little by little by word of mouth, but it isn't a huge title from some publishing titan. It doesn't have some big backing, but it does have its own merit and the people who have read it, telling you, "you need to pick up this book."
A perfect premise: four renowned horror authors spending Halloween in a supposedly haunted house with a rich media mogul who wants them to share their literary knowledge with the world.
But what begins as a heavy-handed publicity stunt follows each of them home in a different way, forcing dark fingers into the crevices of each of their lives. What exactly is it about the house on Kill Creek? What's living there? Dead or alive? And what does it want with the writers?
Thomas has a raw talent and this book pulses with true life. I leaned in to this book as I haven't with a newer book for quite some time, really getting invested in the story, the characters, and the house.
I love a haunted house story; it is probably my favorite type of horror tale. Kill Creek is not only an interesting, involved, scary, and unique story, it completely reinvents the concept.
From the start, it is apparent that the author knows his stuff about horror. I felt safe in the hands of someone who had his main character rattling off about The Mysteries of Udolpho, Freddy Krueger, and Polanski's The Tenant within the first few pages of the book.
And not only that, but the prologue to the book is an obvious homage to Shirley Jackson's most perfect haunted house book, The Haunting of Hill House. Almost beat for beat, he reconstructs his house on Kill Creek the same way she brought together Hill House, how it seemed to create itself "flying together into its own powerful pattern."
And that's the way this book felt—formed so tightly that it nearly flew together of its own volition—a story that had to be told.
As far as the plot goes, I loved the four writers and how they echoed real writers (or at least bits of them). Daniel Slaughter with his Christian-leaning Goosebumps-type series, Sebastian Cole with his Stephen King–like influence, T. C. Moore with her Jack Ketchum–level grossness and Clive Barker weirdness, and Sam McGarver (the main character), who seemed to be more of an amalgam or middle man, perhaps influenced by the Southern gothic William Gay, but more mainstream. (Any ideas?)
In any case, I loved seeing them interact, come together, and even just hearing about their books. I'd read one of each, especially that Cole book A Thinly Cast Shadow that everyone seems so keen on. Perhaps Thomas has something up his sleeve in this direction (oh, please!!), as he obviously has lots of great horror plot ideas. I definitely don't expect this to be his last foray into the genre.
If a story can get you invested in the stories that it isn't telling, you know that's a good book. And I'm telling you, that's only the beginning.
Where this book goes is not what I expected. I figured it would be a fairly straightforward creepy haunted house, bump-in-the-night type of read. Not true at all. This plot has much more to offer, ideas that will expand how you think about hauntings, old places, and maybe even your own home.
I can only tell you to go out and get this book. Have your local bookstore order a few extra copies. If you like it, pass on the love to someone else. This one deserves to be read.
Associate editor, amateur photdographer, bibliophile, and occasional sleuth.