Reviewed by Johnny Butane
Written by Simon Clark
Published by Leisure Books
It’s a very rare case when Leisure sends me something that doesn’t meet what I feel are their very high standard for horror novels, but sadly it’s happened a few times before, and The Tower is the most recent example.
It was, quite literally, a struggle to finish this book. I knew I had to in order to gain a full perspective of the novel as a whole, but man what a long, long few days it was. Most of what I didn’t like about it had to do less with the characters or the overall story, but Clark’s writing style.
Do you like the word “flippant”? Cause Clark sure as hell does. For the first couple of hundred pages that word seems to be thrown out every two or three pages, especially when the thoughts of one of the main characters, Fisher, are being told to the reader. Admittedly I’ve never written a novel, but one would assume when you set out to do so you’d have easy access to a thesaurus so you weren’t using the same word over and over again. Such was not the case here, however, and while to some it’s a little thing, it just added to my overall distaste for the book as a whole.
Now, while I said my dislike for it didn’t exactly stem from the plot, that certainly isn’t The Tower’s strongest point, either. Fisher, the main character, is a bass player in a band that’s been doing fairly well for itself as of late. Along comes a keyboard player named Fabian who insists he can take the band to the next level and make them all very rich. Fisher, the drummer Marko, and the guitar player all agree, only to find out their singer has been sacked and replaced by an overly ambitious new guy, a friend of Fabians. With me so far? They find out about this abandoned house in Yorkshire (did I mention it takes place in England?) where they can housesit for a few months, and Fabian insists they should go there to use it as a rehearsal space, then come out and be ready to record their fist album, which will make them all famous thanks to Fabians’ perfect songs.
The whole thing just smacks of ineptitude, and every character is a two-dimensional cliché for the most part. And seriously, how may bands still have keyboard players nowadays? Sorry that’s a minor gripe, but the whole scenario, and especially how they later use their music to defeat the evil house, is ridiculous.
Right, the house is evil. Forgot to mention that. What it likes to do is give you a very vivid dream about your own death, only to have you wake up feeling terrified, but thankful because you’re alive. Then a few hours or days (or in one case, years) later, you’re death happens just like the house predicted it. To add some more layers of what I assume was supposed to be suspense, there’s also a groundskeeper that lives in a utility shed on the grounds of the home who believes if he sacrifices our guests to the house, the constant pain he lives with will be alleviated.
So the house is evil and wants to kill the band members for no other reason that it can. One credit I’ll give to Clark; he doesn’t make any serious attempt at explaining why the house is evil, or really where it all came from. It wouldn’t have surprised me if it did, since it would’ve just served to slow the pacing down that much more, but he managed to avoid that particular cliché of haunted house stories, and for that I thank him.
There’s this school of though that I’ve found a few author subscribe to that assumes your reader is apparently too stupid to figure out what’s going on, or retain the memory of what’s already happened, so it’s up to the characters therein to spell it all out for us. Usually when they’re alone and scared and decide to start talking aloud to themselves. It drives me crazy to read this “style” of storytelling (it’s one of the reasons I was put off of Ed Lee for so long, he does a lot of that in his Infernal books), and Clark utilizes it in spades. Hence the main reason The Tower was, for me at least, virtually unreadable.
Yeah, so overall, I have to honestly say I’m not sure what Leisure was thinking with this one. Not only is it more or less badly written, but it’s virtually devoid of any real tension thanks to the flat dimensions of it’s characters, and there’s not even any good gore to speak of which, like with some bad movies, can still give me something positive to say about a book. And of course, as with seemingly all the books that Leisure has put out that I’ve found to be just plain bad, it’s also one of their longest releases in recent memory.
For me, it’s all over. I read the book, I’ve written the review, I can move on with my life now and wait for Leisure’s releases next month, which I’m sure are going to be great. Do yourself a favor and skip this one.
1 out of 5
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