The premise is simple: Wainwright, a social media/pop culture internet sensation invites four of the most famous living horror writers to an overnight interview in a haunted house. The cast of characters is as follows: Daniel Slaughter — a Christian horror writer for teens, T.C. Moore — a female horror writer all about gore and sex, Sebastian Cole — the legendary literary horror author, and Sam McGarver — the popular horror fiction writer.
Why Skip It?
First of all, I am going to suggest that everyone pass on this novel. Why? I wish I could write as confidently as Scott Thomas without knowing what in the heck I was doing as a writer. I mean, really. Write with the unearned confidence of a mediocre white man. Hate women, fat people, and disabled people? Boy, does Scott Thomas have the book for you!
Treatment of Women
Scott Thomas writes the one female main character in the novel the way I imagine a white male thinks a feminist behaves. If you can’t write women, don’t. Moore is a sarcastic, overbearingly loudly violent woman who writes gory horror that involves women fornicating with demonic beings to repossess her sexuality and womanhood. This feminist character that Thomas thinks he has written is comical. Moore is always half dressed, writing naked, sleeping in just a bra (I mean, really. This tells me you’re not a woman and have no knowledge of female behavior), or always having her breasts barely concealed by a robe or other way too tightly described clothing.
Even as Thomas attempts to build her backstory and reveal why Moore is a guarded, opinionated woman, it falls so short. You don’t know what a feminist is and why you shouldn’t describe her “lithe body” and “barely covered breasts” every other page. You should have just made the four main characters all men, bud.
Not only is T.C. Moore written exactly how a man with no knowledge of what a feminist is would portray her, the two other female characters in the book are cardboard cutouts. Daniel Slaughter, the R.L. Stine-like author, has a teenage daughter. I almost put the book down completely when Daniel notices his daughter’s budding body. TWICE. Not just once. The third woman, a person of color, is Wainwright’s intern girlfriend. Surprise, surprise. SPOILER: she dies first. When Thomas cannot sexualize the women, they are old and evil. Plain as that.
Do not get me wrong. I am not someone who believes only white, straight men should die. This is horror. However, when everyone but the straight, thin, white male is written about in such ways (oversexualized or demonized for a bodily condition), it is a problem.
General Writing Merit
The “plot twists” and plot in general is campy and elementary. The novel should have been half its 400 plus pages with all of the overly wordy, pretentious description cut in half. Thomas can’t decide if he wants to write an attempt at beautiful prose or a gory story. There is no melding of the two here, and neither one is done well on its own.
A TV Show??
I know why this novel is not published by a major publishing house — they all passed on it for good reason. I don’t think there was any saving of this manuscript. With the character issues and basic prose, even an editor couldn’t have made this any more likeable of a text. It seems that Showtime is looking to turn this novel into a television show. Good luck.(1 / 5)