Title: The Outsiders: Book One
Author: Brandon Faircloth
Genre: Science Fiction / Thriller
When Jason witnesses his grandfather hauling a woman’s lifeless body into the backyard under the cover of night, he is understandably concerned. After confronting his grandfather the next morning at breakfast, Jason is pulled into increasingly elaborate justifications for murder that quickly become a truth stranger than fiction.
Soon the pair are embroiled in an action-packed cat-and-mouse game with mysterious cultists and horrifying eldritch creatures. This is the premise of Brandon Faircloth’s The Outsiders, a genre-bending mystery thriller that blends horror and science fiction into a unique reading experience.
The Outsiders is a frame story in the style of The Princess Bride or Interview With a Vampire, shifting between the grandfather’s frightening narration and his grandson’s reactions. Sometimes the narration stretches on for many chapters; other times it is brief and broken up with real-time action. The device of having the grandfather eloquently narrate long scenes of his past may initially confuse a reader expecting a more conventional kind of scene, but Faircloth does a good job of making this device seem natural after a while.
The relationship between Jason and his grandfather is believable and touching, and Jason’s hesitancy about getting into the family monster-hunting business feels authentic. Faircloth’s prose style is straightforward, and while it sometimes risks making the novel’s life-shattering revelations seem matter-of-fact, this style makes the book easy to read and hard to put down.
Faircloth creates effective atmospheric suspense while keeping the narrative moving at a fast clip toward the next reveal. These reveals, like any good thriller, always leave the audience with new questions. Some elements of the novel, like the cult or characters outside of Jason and his grandfather, are introduced rather suddenly, and audience members may find themselves wanting more build-up to these introductions. This is a book that grows exponentially stranger and more complex as the narrative goes on, and it’s sure to keep any reader on their toes.
The experiments Faircloth conducts with point of view, such as shifting first-person narrators midway through chapters or pulling back to narrate a scene in third person, are interesting. However, these shifts get less uniform as the book progresses, resulting in occasional confusion about who is speaking or what time period is being described. At one point quite late in the book, an entirely new cast of characters is introduced, and it’s unclear how this young gang of “drive-by occultists” who participate in bloody rituals in order to peer into an alternate universe are tied into the main narrative.
However, their use of dead bodies as gateways into an alternate universe known as The Nightlands is unlike anything a reader is likely to see in most horror of science fiction books. The audience is sure to be left wanting to know more about this grisly technique.
The Outsiders: Book One is an intriguing start to what is sure to be a compelling series. Some of the most interesting motifs from serial killer dramas and superhero stories are interwoven into this dynamic novel that never allows itself to become predictable. The Outsiders is perfect for fans of forensic procedurals and Supernatural, as well as those readers who like their science fiction rooted squarely in scientific possibility.
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