Saturday, 6 December 2014

Strange Things In Small Towns

If there's one thing I can say about Strangers by David Moody it's this: It is not for the faint of heart. I've read probably close to 200 books this year, and few of them have been as dark and as disturbing as Moody's latest novel. It made me shudder and cringe in awful ways, and I wouldn't have changed a thing about it. Strangers isn't about jump scares or gory horror (though there's certainly enough of that), but more about psychological terror, something that Moody has always excelled at. Spoilers are below.


A spate of brutal murders occur in and around the small town of Thussock. The bodies of the dead – savagely mutilated, unspeakably defiled – are piling up with terrifying speed. There are no apparent motives and no obvious connections between the victims, but the killings only began when Scott Griffiths and his family arrived in Thussock… - See more at: http://www.infectedbooks.co.uk/shop/strangers-2014-paperback/#sthash.9UeMt0kf.dpuf
A spate of brutal murders occur in and around the small town of Thussock. The bodies of the dead – savagely mutilated, unspeakably defiled – are piling up with terrifying speed. There are no apparent motives and no obvious connections between the victims, but the killings only began when Scott Griffiths and his family arrived in Thussock...

The story follows Scott Griffiths, his wife Michelle, their young son, and his two teenage stepdaughters as they move from the city to an area so off the grid it's probably not on any map in existence. Obviously the stepdaughters are less than pleased about the move, thought Scott makes it his personal mission to invest and work with the house, intent on making it a fresh start for the family that was forced to move due to his role in a terrible tragedy.

And then the gruesome murders start. Honestly, I'm not even sure gruesome is the right word. They're utterly horrific and completely unexpected, and while I encourage fans of the psychological horror genre to give Strangers a try, be warned: you're in for a nasty surprise.

While the murders themselves were terrifying and brutal, that wasn't necessarily what disturbed me the most about this story. It was the slow, steady realization that Scott may be a main character, but he's definitely not a hero. In fact, he's an abusive, dangerous monster who tries to justify his actions through blaming others. He claims to be the foundation of the family, when he's the reason it's crumbling in the first place.

Likewise, Michelle doesn't exactly have a strong personality. That isn't to say she isn't diverse or three dimensional– she is– but she's left to assume that she's to blame for Scott's actions and that his abuse is required. It was heartbreaking at some points, almost difficult to read, as spousal abuse is a very serious problem that many fiction novels don't want to touch on. Moody is a master at weaving in new information to strengthen the back stories and depth of his characters, clarifying them of the direness of the situation.

I've always been a fan of David Moody because he isn't afraid to push the boundaries of horror. He doesn't mind writing stories that are twisted and dark and that make you squirm as you read. That's what a true horror author sets out to achieve, and Strangers definitely achieved its goal in doing that.

So if you're not afraid of some gore and reading about the darkest parts of humanity, Strangers is for you. It left its mark in my mind, and I didn't regret reading it. I'm hoping the visuals won't give me nightmares, but if they do, then it just proves that David Moody likely accomplished exactly what he intended.

Amy

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