Tuesday, June 10, 2008

House Of Blood

House of Blood was the debut novel from Bryan Smith. It has been out for a while, but I have held off reading it until the recent publication of the sequel, Queen of Blood, so I could read them back-to-back.

It’s a cliché in horror to call any relatively new writer the “next big thing”, but Smith may be the real deal. He already seems to have staked a substantial place for himself in the realm of what used to be called “splatterpunk” horror, and I guess now is called “extreme”. Or something.

A long time ago, I was told a key to selling a story or gaining a reader was to have an opening that grabbed the attention. Here’s the opening from House of Blood:

Later they would all agree they should have stayed on that dark stretch of Tennessee highway. One or two of those left alive at that point would remark on the futility of the desire to change that which could not be changed…

Nice bit of foreshadowing, without giving anything away. It grabbed my attention.

Five friends are returning from an ill-fated vacation in Key West, when they take the wrong interstate exit in Eastern Tennessee. Without any realization, they pass out of the normal plane of existence and into the realm of The Master, a mysterious figure who has used supernatural power to create a realm of torture and human sacrifice. The steadily diminishing group struggles to escape the clutches of The Master and his chief assistant, the sadistic Ms. Wickman, while in The Master’s fiefdom of Below, revolution is fomenting.

If there is a weakness to House of Blood, it is that it throws almost too many ideas at the reader, which is probably the result of being a first novel. This is a very minor observation, however, since House of Blood grabs the reader and sweeps him/her along its bloody path. Having earlier enjoyed Smith’s even more gonzo Freakshow, count me among his fans. Details on Queen of Blood coming soon.


Craig Clarke said...

Eastern Tennessee? I didn't know that. I'll have to grab it.

KentAllard said...

Oddly enough, when I read this one, I was riding in a car in eastern Tennessee. A little freaky.

Craig Clarke said...

That is creepy. You weren't hunting down the Erwin elephant, were you? :)

KentAllard said...

No, but I know someone who lives in Erwin. He says the locals are still very proud of (allegedly) hanging the elephant.