In KILL CREEK by Scott Thomas (Inkshares, 2017), four of the nation’s bestselling horror authors are invited to spend the night in a haunted house as part of an online media event, with horrible consequences. The result is one of the best horror novels I’ve read in a long time, even more remarkable for the fact it’s Thomas’s first novel.
The idea is solid high concept, but I often find high concept boring, which was why I shied away from the book at first. I kept hearing good things about it, though, and when I was offered a free copy from the publisher supporting the book’s nomination for a Stoker Award, I gave it a shot.
So glad I did. Execution is far more important than high concept, and Thomas delivers.
The novel introduces us to four very different horror authors, each a terrific character you can root for, who spend the night in a house that is powerful, horrifying, and wants them all for a very specific purpose. The writing flows, Thomas’s voice is confident and his own, and the pacing is almost perfect, with the narrative almost never really flagging. As a writer, I found the characterization a bit of a feast, as the main characters talk about why they write horror, write it very differently, and both admire and loathe each other as competitors. It was also fun to try to guess if Thomas had anybody particular in mind when building them–is Moore based roughly on Clive Barker? Is Sam based partly on Stephen King?
My only criticism is about the ending–both the climax and denouement–which left me a bit incredulous, but who cares? It’s a great read, and I’m happy to recommend it. I’m hoping to read more of this new author in the future.