Written by Greg F. Giffune
Published by Delirium Books
Sometimes it’s really a pain in the ass writing a book review. You feel like if you don’t convey your point well enough, people may just pass it off as yet another run of the mill horror novel; if you over praise it, you might come across as a kiss ass. Can it be enough to just say The Bleeding Season is a damn fine read? No, it never is.
How well do you know your friends? Assuming you still know anyone you did when you were a kid, would you bet your life there wasn’t much, if anything, that you didn’t know about them? For most of my friends that I’ve known for a long time, I probably would. But that wouldn’t be too smart, considering…
Alan, Tommy, Rick, Donald and Bernard were the best of friends growing up. Tommy was their defacto leader, being the smartest and most charismatic, but when he was tragically killed early on in high school, things were never the same for the remaining quartet. When we meet the lingering friends, they’re going through the shock of finding out that Bernard, the quiet, lonely one of them, has killed himself. Of course there are always questions when such a thing happens, and Bernard is more than happy to fill them in with the details via a tape he made shortly before he hung himself in his cousin’s basement.
Instead of offering them comfort or some sort of closure, however, the tape only reveals more layers than any of them every suspected about their friend Bernard. He seemed like he was a lonely, mother-obsessed introvert, but in reality he was much darker and more evil. Bernard tells them he’s done things, things the police will find as soon as the spring begins. Sure enough, as the weather begins to get nice, the first body is found … and that’s only the beginning.
The story follows Alan, who married his high school sweetheart and has more or less been living a life of complacency for years. When he begins to look into what Bernard really was, though his wife, and friends to a lesser extent, think he’s going to places where he has no right to go, down a path of darkness from which he might never return. But Alan can’t help it; he’s obsessed with finding out just what Bernard did while he was alive and bring his evil to an end. He can’t stop thinking about the nightmares he has nearly every time he closes his eyes, but soon finds there are much worse things waiting for him when he’s awake.
The Bleeding Season, despite the questionable title and terribly cheesy cover, is a story about evil and familiarity, and the breeding of the former by the latter. The relationships in The Bleeding Season seem strikingly real, especially that of Alan and his wife, and because of that it makes some of the more overdone plot elements, like the worship of Satan in all those blasphemous ways that you have to question if they really have any effect, a bit easier to swallow. In truth the heart of Bernard’s evil is actually within himself, as it is in all people, not some Christian idea of Satan, so author Giffune never goes as far as to say that worshipping the devil was the impetus for Bernard to perform the horrendous acts he did.
Giffune’s strength lies in his imagery and characterization, even if the overall tone of The Bleeding Season is oppressively pessimistic throughout. There is a small glimmer of hope towards the end that maybe it’ll all be all right, but overall the book is there to tell you that the lives of these men, and indeed any person who chooses to ignore what’s right in front of them for very long, is royally and completely fucked, no matter what they think they an accomplish by confronting evil.
Still, the man is a great storyteller and I admit I was hooked from the first few pages, just be sure you’re in a good state of mind before you plunge too deeply into The Bleeding Season, lest its pessimism get the best of you, too.
3 1/2 out of 5
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