Published by Samhain Publishing
It’s Halloween, and Sergeant Benjamin Journell of the Stillwater, Maryland, police department has a problem. A big and getting bigger problem. It seems that the devastating floods which ravage Stillwater on an almost regular basis have brought “something” to town. “Something” that gruesomely kills children, mutilates cattle and haunts the empty streets of the dying little burg.
The body of an unidentifiable young boy with horrific wounds is found at “The Narrows”, a causeway joining water from Stillwater’s Mills Creek with the Potomac River. Strange things have happened at The Narrows as well as at the nearby decaying plastics factory. Of course, kids go there to try and scare one another, only after this most recent flood there really IS something to be scared of. Sounds in the night, whitish figures either dashing in front of cars or lurking in people’s backyards, cows found with strange wounds on them and missing their brains. Some whisper “zombie”, others whisper “vampire”, but what Sgt. Ben Journell and others discover is so much worse.
Ronald Malfi, author of Snow (review here), The Ascent and several other titles including the 2011 Bram Stoker nominee for Best Novel, The Floating Staircase, is known for his haunting, lyrical style and his way with words. He also creates memorable characters such as the denizens of Stillwater: Ben Journell, Brandy Crawly, Maggie Quedentock and Eddie LaPointe; and they resonate with life in Malfi’s capable hands. Horror also resonates in Malfi’s works – he is a master at creating scenarios of utter fear and disgust as well as knowing how to unsettle the reader with only a few words.
Reading The Narrows, I was struck early on by how similar Malfi’s style is to Stephen King’s. Particularly the beginning of the novel, which has echoes of It and The Body in it as two boys are en route to The Narrows to see where the dead boy was found. To ME, there is no greater compliment for a horror writer than to be compared to King.
So, here is a book that should appeal to most horror aficionados: well-drawn characters, horrific creatures, gruesome deaths, plenty of blood for you gorehounds, a soupçon of mystery and an atmosphere of dread that just oozes from the pages. What are you waiting for? The Narrow is available now and will make great Halloween reading!
4 out of 5