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The Premise

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.

Scott Thomas on Twitter

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 out of 5 stars (1 / 5)

Sarah Moon is a stone-cold sorceress from Tennessee whose interests include serial killers, horror fiction, and the newest dystopian blockbuster. Sarah holds an M.A. in English Literature and an M.F.A. in Fiction Writing. She works as an English professor as well as a cemeterian. Sarah is most likely to cover horror in print including prose, poetry, and graphic forms.

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Book Reviews

“The Writing Retreat” Gone Bad: Julia Bartz’s Debut

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Keeping it all in the family, Julia Bartz’s The Writing Retreat is the debut novel of the sister of Andrea Bartz, author of We Were Never Here, which I reviewed here.

I was much more impressed with The Writing Retreat than I was We Were Never Here.

The Plot

Five up and coming female writers under 30 are invited to a writing retreat hosted by the reclusive and acclaimed horror writer Rosa Vallo. Rosa reveals the details of the retreat: each writer must complete a full length novel from scratch over the next month. The best novel wins a multi-million dollar publishing deal with Rosa.

Suddenly, the retreat turns into a nightmare when one writer goes missing in the snowy terrain outside.

The novel hinges on friendships in turmoil and has a focus on LGBT+ representation as well as interpersonal female relationships. The novel explores the dark publishing world and the search for fame and the Great American Novel.

The Verdict

This novel is atmospheric and intellectual, page turning, and the English major’s required reading. I absorbed this novel and found Julia Bartz’s writing and conceptual chops to be leagues above her sister’s.

Ths novel releases on February 21, 2023 and it should be in your cart right now.

4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

Buy it here!

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Book Reviews

A Murder in Reverse: “Wrong Place Wrong Time”

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The Plot

“A brilliantly genre-bending, mind-twisting answer to the question How far would you go to save your child?”  — Ruth Ware, #1 New York Times bestselling author

Jen watches her son murder a stranger. Stab him to death. She and her husband, Kelly, watch as their son Todd is taken into custody.

The next morning, Jen wakes up and it’s yesterday. Jen knows that at the end of the night, her son kills someone. She is determined to stop it.

Jen goes further and further back in time trying to discover why Todd murdered a stranger and how to stop it.

The Verdict

This book is twisty. Right when you think you know the ending, something else is there to prove that the story is more multifaceted than that. While the premise of the novel is simple, Gillian McAllister elevates a simple concept with deep, dark twists.

It is best that you don’t know too much going into this one. For fans of Blake Crouch, this is such a good thriller with time travelling vibes.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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Book Reviews

Woom: An Extreme Horror Novel

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“That doesn’t invalidate it,” Angel said. “There’s no statute of limitations on pain.”

The Plot

Angel is a man who knows pain: physical, mental, sexual. The story begins with Angel visiting Room 6 at the Lonely Motel and ordering a plus-size sex worker to his room. What comes next is Angel’s retellings of painful stories while performing sexual acts on the sex worker, Shyla.

The novel reads as a book of short stories, as Angel relays stories to Shyla and she tells him stories back. This is a novel of pain and disgust. Angel’s stories are so dark and traumatic that Shyla can’t believe they are true. As Angel bares his soul, we see a side of him that is melancholy and unable to process hurt in a natural way.

The Verdict

This novel is full of disgusting visuals and isn’t afraid to get dirty. This truly is an extreme horror novel. As a warning, there is discussion of feces, blood, rape, sex, and body horror. This novel is not for the faint of heart. You’ll close this short novel feeling dirty. Angel is a character that begs for sympathy while his stories narrate that he may not be as innocent as he perceives.

When the subtitle says this novel is extreme horror, believe it. Only the strong will survive Duncan Ralston’s Woom. It is more splatterpunk than anything, but true literary quality lies beneath the filth.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Read it yourself by clicking below!

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