The Troop and "Blackwood's Baby"

Nick Cutter (a pseudonym for a Canadian writer) did a nice job with characterization and pacing in The Troop. I liked aspects of the book quite a bit, including the use of a variety of epistolary techniques and creative narrative elements. The faux GQ articles and the transcripts from the sworn testimony on Falstaff Island were a nice touch I liked the little advertisement in the third act.

It's well written, but it's not the kind of horror I really like reading anymore. I am okay with some aggressive gore in my visual horror, and I don't cringe from it when looking at movies. But when it comes to my reading impulses, I like mundane horror--quiet horror--so much more than the squeamish, body-altering stuff taking place here.

It's a book about parasites, so you can get the picture (funny, because I just read Stephen King's "Gray Matter" last night and loved it all over again). There's a lot of rupturing, and a lot of disgusting transformation. There are parts that will make you want to grab a shower.

But all in all, it's a good little yarn because Cutter never loses sight of the horror of what happens to ordinary people when they are subjected to things beyond their control. These kids (and Scoutmaster Tim) don't deserve this. They're collateral damage in a government experiment gone haywire, and they're no more deserving (well, maybe Shelley is deserving) of their fate than is a house full of regular folks just living their lives in the Middle East that get bombed into oblivion when one of our drones hits the wrong target. To his credit, Cutter plumbs the psychological sense of repulsion these adolescents feel as they are plunged into the world of adult mistakes. These poor kids keep waiting for their parents, until finally they have to throw their hands up and face the facts: adults are messed up, and they don't have things under control.

It's well written and it moves well. Just be warned that this falls into the category of gross-out horror if you're looking for a summer read...

Laird Barron's "Blackwood's Baby" is a solid short story. Not as good as much of the work in The Imago Sequence, but certainly a nice way to pass an hour...

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