The Cambridge Geek

A Kiss of Thorns - Tim Waggoner

Back to novellas briefly, in a vague attempt to get closer to my effort to read all of the award-nominated ones. This time we're on horror, a genre that seems to do quite well at this length, allowing as it does the building of some terrifying moments without unnecessary padding.

Julie and Ken are attempting a second honeymoon at a cabin in the woods at the edge of a lake, but are struggling in no small part due to their troublesome love life and mismatched personalities. This leaves them susceptible to the voyeuristic urges of Lonny, a lonely figure who has lived in the area all his life, following a traumatic childhood.

Lonny's father was something of a psycho. And by "something of a", I mean complete and total, given that he mutilated Lonny and did horrible things to his sister. Things that Lonny has spent his life trying to undo, with the constant sacrifice of young women. I'm sure you can imagine his plans for Julie.

Which is a bit of a shame, as Julie can probably sympathise with Lonny's tendencies somewhat, with her intense passion for 80's horror gorefests. She's pleasingly self-aware of the mistake they've made with the young lovers' trip to Spookyville, and it adds another facet to her surprising depth of character for such a short work.

It is very definitely gruesome. This isn't one for those who are squeamish, but if you like your horror heavy on the splatter with a twist of psychological, there's a lot here to like. Lonny's background is dived into in a lot of interesting detail, not something I've often seen regarding psychotic murderers (though that may be my infrequent horror reading). It also has an impressively powerful ending.

Score 4

Tagged: Book Horror Horrible humans Novella Print