A great new review. Warms my black soul, it does...

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Samhane by Daniel I Russell
Wild Child Publishing

There is a lot wrong in the town of Samhane. Specialist exterminator, Brian Rathbone and his son have been called in to sort out some of the special problems that have been plaguing the town for decades. Problems that only a select few understand fully. People disappearing, murders, strange noises.

Donald Patterson, is also heading to Samhane in a frantic bid to save his wife from the clutches of a truly evil and repugnant man known as Demon.

I’m not going to give away any plot points in this review, but Daniel manages to meld the tradition monster type horror, with some real extreme, and I hate this term, torture horror. Demon performs some truly sickening acts throughout this novel. I personally have never been a fan of this type of horror; I find the works of folks like Ed Lee to be far too over the top, being sickening only for the sake of it. So it came as a pleasant surprise that I actually enjoyed these passages. They didn’t feel as though they were just included for sake of titillation and there weren’t a sense of them being shoe horned in. The two styles of horror writing flow together with great confidence.

The writing feels much more assured than you would expect from such a fresh new talent. A fast paced story that manages to be both horrific and fun is maintained through to the final climatic battle, which will if you are like me bring a smile to the faces of any old school first person shooter fans.

The overriding impression I got of Samhane was one of this place is the evil and psychotic twin of Royston Vasey. It’s like the League of Gentleman decide to get truly sick in the head.

There is great set of characters populating the town of Samhane, from the frantic aspiring author Donald Patterson searching for his wife, Chuckles the clown, who triumphantly carries on the tradition of chilling clowns. Walter , the ex soldier best friend of Donald, who despite having a dark secret I found to be sympathetic and rather likable.

The father and son exterminators Brian and Sam Rathbone the main protagonist of the story have been called in by the mayor to sort out the problems of the town. I loved the father and son dynamics portrayed here. Brian clearly loves his son and is full of the common worries that a parent faces, but add to this the added concerns of how do you keep your son safe at night while at the same time training him to become a hunter. I enjoyed how Brian came across as an everyman, he’s not some super cool monster battler like Buffy or the Supernatural brothers, there is no support network of watchers or hunters for him, it’s just him and his son. No long lost mythical weapons of power, just him and a baseball bat for his final showdown. He could be the guy next door. I loved how Brian makes his son read Stephen King novels as a means to learning the ways to kill the monsters, it was a nice touch. If I have one quibble with the story is that I would have liked more of a history of Brian, how he trained himself to be a hunter after the events that caused him to turn to this way of life.

I truly lapped this book up. I have less and less time for reading these days, so really like it when I discover a new author that does it for me. This is right up there with The Kult by Shaun Jeffrey, November Mourns by Tom Piccirilli and The Valley by Willie Meikle for my top reads of the year so far.

Jim McCleod, British Horror Novels.
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