Reviewed by Scott A. Johnson
Written by Sarah Pinborough
Published by Leisure Books
For many people, spiders are the things of which nightmares are made. Eight legs of hairy horror attached to mandibles that were undoubtedly designed by Satan to rend flesh have the ability to send even the most jaded horror fans (and horror news site administrators) screaming out of the room. Picture the biggest, nastiest spider you can think of. Got it in your mind? Now increase the size by about a hundred. And give it a raging crack addiction. Those are the shiver-inducing creatures that inhabit this wonderfully demented book by Sarah Pinborough.
Set in England, Feeding Ground opens up at a prison where everything is far too quiet. The guards haven’t been around, the inmates are getting antsy, and there’s the general feeling that the world has gone to hell in a handbasket. Enter Blane Gentle-King, the lord of his domain on the street, a drug-pushing, whore-smacking, gun-running control freak who managed to wind up in the slammer. When his boys show up to get him out, they let him know that the rest of England is worse off than he could’ve imagined.
The women…They got fat. Not just fat, but grotesquely obese and ravenous. Until, that is, they give birth. To the aforementioned spiders. Add to the mix two other groups who just want to get the hell out of the city, and you’ve got a tense, chilling, and truly frightening story that any horror fan will love.
Pinborough’s strengths come from her vivid description of a world that’s gone completely to hell in just a few days. From the humid air to the hot rain, eerily quiet streets, and overturned buses, she paints a picture that is easily visualized, even by those who’ve never been to England. She builds every abandoned flat and weaves every blood-stained carpet to complete a picture perfect image. Similarly, she pays particular attention to her characters, giving them all real identities. From the megalomaniacal Blane Gentle-King to his right-hand man Charlie, readers are given access to their thoughts and feelings, no matter how twisted and addled they are. Readers find a great deal to sympathize with in all of her characters, some of whom are just trying to survive, others who are only too eager to usher in the new world order.
In a normal review this would be the point where the reviewer would talk about weaknesses in the novel, just to give a balanced point of view. In the case of Feeding Ground, however, there are no weaknesses. Every page holds something to make readers cringe and feel the tension of the characters. Pinborough deftly navigates the waters between rage and sympathy, all the while leaving what is truly tragic on the table like an open wound. Books like this are few and far between. If you haven’t read Pinborough’s work yet, do yourself a favor and start now.
5 out of 5
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