book-review_-town-theBentley Little
Signet
2000

Gregory Tomasov has returned with his family to the quaint Arizona community of his youth. In McGuane, the air is clean, the land is unspoiled. Nothing much has changed. Except now, no one goes out after dark. And no one told Gregory that he shouldn’t have moved into the old abandoned farm on the edge of town. Once upon a time something bad happened there. Something that’s now buried in its walls. Something now reborn in the nightmares of Gregory’s young son. Something about to be unleashed. What happened once is going to happen again in…The Town.

The Town was the very first Bentley Little novel that I ever read. After hearing about the author (from the lady who owned the laundromat I did my clothes at, of all people), I spotted this particular novel of his on the shelves at Half Price Books, and since it was the only Bentley Little title there, I decided to pick it up and give it a read, just to see if his work was worth delving into.

The first thing I want to point out, if you haven’t picked up on the trend with my other Bentley Little reviews, is that the titles of Little’s novels are so very unassuming and generic sounding that they kind of lull you into a false sense of security as you wander unknowingly into what usually turns out to be Bentley Little’s patented brand of twisted brand of supernatural horror, the likes of which I haven’t experienced since discovering Clive Barker back in the later half of my teenage years.

For instance, in The Town, there is in fact a “town” involved. However, that obviously doesn’t give much beyond that of what to expect beyond that. It’s like opening up a can that’s marked “peaches” and, while finding peaches in there, also finding out that it was riddled with a flesh eating bacteria culture when halfway done with said peaches.

Here, a family wins a substantial lottery, and the husband/father moves his wife, three children and superstitious mother back to his small home town of McGuane, Arizona, because nostalgia or something or other. And because Arizona is to Bentley Little as Maine is to Stephen King, we soon learn that McGuane is a town that’s overrun by mischievous uninvited spirits. This results in a whole lot of off-putting wackiness, which include but are not limited to: Naked elderly ghosts, a murderous Bible, a cactus baby…yeah, that last one had me putting down the book for a bit to smoke a cigarette and get a grip on what I just read.

For the most part, The Town was a rather effective horror novel, written in what I call the grand tradition of pulp horror. Not much is explained as to the why of everything happening, and those of you who need to know the method to all the madness, I’m afraid you’re going to be frustrated by the time the book ends. However, if you’re into enjoying the ride itself, The Town is a rather effective horror yarn that more or less got me hooked by the time I put this down.

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