Title: A Monster Escapes
Author: Lewis Wolfe
Genre: Horror / Thriller / Supernatural Suspense
Something evil and mysterious is making its way through the minds of the inhabitants of Brettville, something that forces them to relive the darkest moments of their past over and over again while it feeds and thrives on the feelings of paranoia and despair that these experiences elicit. Ex-military man Caleb Epps is hired as a bodyguard to enigmatic investigator Jane Elring as she races against time to unravel the mystery before another victim is claimed.
This atmospheric thriller is full of things that readers have come to expect from the horror genre: gore, graphic scenes, death, and destruction. It is explicit and unflinching in its portrayal of the daily temptations we face as human beings and what we are capable of when our minds are pushed to the limit, the underlying message being that the monsters we face are sometimes those that are contained within ourselves.
The author’s voice and point of view came through loud and clear. Despite the supernatural elements and the fantastical nature of the premise, he was able to ground the story in a very real way by weaving relevant issues like race, gender discrimination, and abuse into the plot. His prose is lyrical and poetic, providing a stark and sometimes jarring contrast to the darkness of the subject matter.
The cast of characters were imperfect in the best way possible. Jane and Caleb, the two main protagonists, are both haunted by the secrets of their past, and both have done things they are not necessarily proud of. However, it is this imperfection that makes them so interesting. Readers will root for them because they are flawed—because they operate in that gray area of being neither fully good nor truly evil, and this is something most people will be able to relate to.
The narrative is evenly paced. The author was able to take the time to carefully establish each character’s backstory through the use of flashbacks without overpowering the progression of the story. As previously mentioned, this book can get quite graphic. Human sexuality and violence are both themes that were explored extensively in this book, and the author did not skimp on the details.
Some scenes that were of a sexual nature bordered on gratuitous, however necessary they may have been to showcase the impact of desire and base needs on human nature. There were also moments when the author did a lot of telling rather than showing, and some of the narrative threads were tied up in ways that felt a bit contrived, but these few quibbles did not detract from the overall quality of the book.
A Monster Escapes is dark and twisted in a way that only a good horror novel can be, made even better through tight plotting, well-developed characters, and overall excellent writing. In addition, the juxtaposition of evil and depravity with the idea that, despite everything, there is a capacity within each person to do good adds depth and meaning to what would have otherwise been just another supernatural thriller. A classic page-turner full of thrills and chills, this book will be an instant hit for fans of the genre.
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