the-revelation-bentley-littleBentley Little
Signet
1990

Strange things are happening in the small town of Randall, Arizona. The local minister vanishes, his church defiled by blasphemous obscenities scrawled in blood…A crazed old woman in her eighties becomes pregnant…Herds of animals are discovered butchered in a field…And one by one, the good folks in town are falling victim to the same unspeakable fate…Now, an itinerant preacher has arrived spreading a gospel of cataclysmic fury. Darkness is falling on Randall, Arizona. The smell of fear lingers in the air. And stranger things are yet to come…

The Revelation was Bentley Little’s first novel published, and one that, since discovering his books years ago, I had some of the hardest times trying to locate and read. It never seemed to be available in print, Barnes & Nobel never carried Little’s stuff to begin with, and it was always hit-and-miss with the Half Price Books. And it wasn’t one of the titles that was available in eBook form on Google Play. But then, one late morning, while killing some time at the Half Price Books in the area in a vain attempt at getting my two younger nephews to spark an interest in literary contentment (don’t get me started), I noticed that there was, in fact, a copy of The Revelation in the Horror section of the mass paperback shelves. Yes, I snatched that sucker up faster than saving a kitten from the jaws of something…not nice. Those two spawn of my sister and brother-in-law can keep their noses in that Poke’-whatever game of theirs; I just caught a rare Little title. They don’t know what they’re missing. Or, maybe they do. I don’t know. Point is, I finally got to read this first novel from Bentley Little. Is it as crazy as the later works that I’m well acquainted with?

Well, yes. Yes it is.

I have to admit, I really had a different idea of what this book was going to be about. I’ve read enough religious-themed horror novels in my time to have developed something of a preconceived notion of what to expect. You know: crazy-eyed preacher blows into town, causes all kinds of wackiness, turns out to be on the side of evil and such, plucky doubter has to take them out some how, yadda yadda yadda. Here, though, there is a crazy-eyed preacher…but the trope is turned on its head. In this case, he shows up to once again put to rest an evil that pops up every couple of centuries or so, at random places in the world. This time, the showdown is outside an obscure town in Arizona.

The Revelation hits the usual hallmarks that sets a Bentley Little novel apart: small Southwest town, claustrophobic atmosphere, evil undead babies…you know, a Bentley Little novel. It builds up the dread, has what I like to call “That Ain’t Right” moments sprinkled liberally throughout, and has this tendency to get under your skin at just the right moments, then zig when you expect the story to zag. It does seem a bit tame compared to his later output, but still is a very effective visceral horror novel. Check it out some time.

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