Kill Creek by Scott Thomas

Posted On 7 December 2017

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Kill Creek was initially a book that I wanted to read for Halloween, and I must say it would have been absolutely perfect.  As it was the best laid plans didn’t quite work out, that being said this book is a great read for this time of the year with the dark nights, in fact if you enjoy horror I’m pretty certain you can be chilled by this book on any given month of the year.  In fact if you’re easily scared you might prefer the lighter nights.

Horror is one of those cateogories of reads that can go horribly wrong for me.  I don’t want too much blood and viscera, bodies being torn to pieces or other atrocities.  I want to be scared and also surprised and Kill Creek managed to fulfil all those criteria for me and on top of that provided a downright bone chilling ghost story, the sort where you want to hide behind a cushion – although can anybody explain why or how that really helps.

We start off with an introduction to our main character Sam McGarver.  Sam is an author of horror books.  He seems to be having something of a blip in his writing and is currently lecturing whilst trying to give off the impression that he’s in the process of drawing up his next novel.  Sam receives a mysterious invitation to take part in an interview on the creepiest night of the year, Halloween.   The interview will take place in one of the most notoriously haunted houses in the country and unbeknownst to Sam, three other horror writers have been invited to take part.  Basically this is a publicity stunt dreamt up by Justin Wainwright, the man behind a website known as WrightWire.  Wainwright is hellbent on stirring up a frenzy of visitors to his website and has concocted the idea of an interview with four famous horror writers, in a haunted house – who knows what will happen!

What worked really well for me in this story were a number of things.

Firstly the characters.  We have four very different authors and their own egos and feelings of insecurity.  They come together in a way that creates a wonderful feeling of uncertainty and just plain old paranoia. Thomas does a great job of giving them all individual personalities and bringing them to life quite vividly.  There’s also Wainwright.  Ruthlessly calculating, he’s hoping for a showdown and comes across as arrogant and self serving.  Then we have the final character of the piece.  The house.  This place has a terrible history. It lies derelict, off the beaten track in the Kansas countryside.  For years people have been too scared to approach apart from the odd child on a dare and now it is almost forgotten.

Secondly the tempo of the book.  It’s relentless and perfectly pitched.  We have an almost old fashioned feel start, a brief introduction to each of the characters before they come together for the evening almost in the fashion of Then There Were None.  Each of them seems to be harbouring some personal issue or fear that helps to crank up the tension.  At first, as a reader you’re just plain old worried about the house and what it’s going to throw at you but Thomas seems to lull you into this sense of security, a warm fire, good food and drink, cosy lighting.  You forget to be afraid.  The interview takes place and everyone goes to bed.  I don’t want go into the other issues but the book takes an unexpected turn after this point and it’s anything but cosy.

Finally the style, I love the way the book develops from an almost classic horror that taps into your psyche to something that becomes almost predictably and comfortingly  haunting but then swiftly moves down the path of out and out twisted horror. It’s gripping stuff and the writing is good, it just keeps you completely until the very last chapter.

I definitely have no hesitation in recommending this book.  It had me sitting tense and occasionally looking over my shoulder but more than that it made me want to shout at the characters – just like you do in a good horror film.  It sounds a bit trite or cliched but you know you’re scared when you’re shouting instructions at characters in a book or film.

I received a copy through Netgalley courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  the above is my own opinion.