Anyone who knows me, knows that there’s nothing I love to read more than a really good, low-down scary horror story. For me, a good horror story is one that you can’t set down, even though it scares the bejesus out of you. I remember one night when when I was fifteen and I was baby sitting a couple of kids for a mother who worked nights, and I happened across a book called The Shining. After the kids were in bed, the dishes done, and the apartment picked up, I sat down to read the book I had found on the coffee table, and read it, I did. I called and woke my mother up at two a.m. and asked her to talk to me for a little while, because I was scared and hearing noises. My mom was the best, and she talked to me for almost twenty minutes, until I felt like I could once more keep it together. When we hung up, I went back to the couch, picked up The Shining again, and read the rest of the night away. I finished the book in one night, almost in one sitting. It scared the holy crap out of me, but I had to find out what happened. That, to me, is what a good horror story is all about.
Kind Nepenthe, by Matthew V. Brockmeyer turns the hills of Northern California into a place to be feared. This skillfully crafted story takes readers inside California’s drug culture, and behind the scenes of a marajuana grow to find more lurking there than sex, drugs, and rock and roll. A kind of darkeness falls deep in the forests of Humboldt County, a darkness that grabs ahold and doesn’t let go, a darkness that ends in murder, over and over again.
Looking for peace and sustainability for herself and her daughter, Rebecca goes along with her boyfriend, Calendula, in playing plant caretaker for the grow of her friend Coyote in order to get the needed money to buy them a place and live off the land. But, she gets so much more than she bargained for and in time, she doesn’t even recognize herself or Calendula as the evil of Homicide Hill grips them in clenched fists and won’t let go.
Brockmeyer does a good job of building suspense and allowing readers to feel the fear – one sign of a well-crafted horror story. He did an excellent job of keeping me focused and on track, except in one instance where he tried a method of re-direction that just didn’t work for me, but I found instead, a bit confusing. In spite of that, Kind Nepenthe is a kind of scary that is so believable, it might be the scariest of all. And I have to give him kudos for coming up with an original title that will stand out for search engines and may carry him to the top of the rankings. I give it four quills.
Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs at no charge. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.