Thanks to Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi and Sinister Grin Press for sending the Night Worms copies of this one to read and review!
I am not against a good monster romp, but I think it might be one of the most difficult types of stories to really get right. Sure, they can be “fun” and “gory” but to me, it takes a lot more to fully be a horror story, and more importantly, a good story.
How do you get the reader to feel for characters who they know are going to end up as cannon fodder? How do you use story tropes without falling into stereotypes and clichés? How do you create an original monster that will be compelling on the page, make readers really see it and cringe and create a memorable experience?
They Feed didn’t make the cut for me.
If you like reading horror for those moments of just getting down and dirty in a gorefest, people’s skin coming off, eyes gouging out, screaming and running with a high body count and lots of weirdness—this book will probably hit your horror sweet-spot. And there isn’t anything wrong with that. One reason I love horror is how wide-ranging the definition can be. But I guess what I’m learning is that all that sideshow fluff, however grisly and gruesome isn’t enough for me.
I still want a good story, with characters who matter. Ones who aren’t just falling into the most obvious stereotypes and seem only to be in the story at all to increase the body count.
And I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably say it again, but it does make me a little peeved when the twist turns out to be something that the reader couldn’t have guessed—not because they didn’t pick up on all the subtle hints and clues, but because the book obfuscated the truth or outright lied (as I’d argue this book does) to the readers about the intent and knowledge of the characters.
I can’t get through a review of this without mentioning how I was constantly distracted by the strange and off-putting metaphors and descriptions the author used throughout the book. And in talking with my other Worms, I know I wasn’t the only reader who felt that often, the examples the author used to describe what was going on were not only fairly repellent (not necessarily a bad thing by itself) but also wildly off-base to the point that they startled me out of reading rather than assisting my imagination with the scene.
All in all, this wasn’t a book for me. Jason Parent seems to have a pretty good fan base for his books, and I applaud that. I’m glad that there are horror fans who dig this, who want more of it—this is what makes us a great and unique bunch of weirdos. But if you’re looking for more story, with characters who will really make you feel something, this isn’t the place to get it.
Associate editor, amateur photdographer, bibliophile, and occasional sleuth.