Abiding Evil by Alison Buck
|Abiding Evil by Alison Buck
|Reviewer: John Lloyd
|Summary: A dense American forest is the location for a child-snatcher - and an over-detailed band of friends and their kids at a rural hotel.
|Date: May 2007
|Publisher: Alnpete Press
The nowheresville featured in this horror thriller is Losien - a place wherein there is plenty of loss - a tiny jumble of properties on the edge of one of the dense forests you only see these days in fiction. Here, it's also somewhere never specified in the USA. Said forest is home to someone - or something - taking the local children, even using a previously snatched girl as bait. They invariably end up dead, with some small piece of their clothing used to dress a primitive wooden doll.
Certainly not on anyone's list of suspects is loner, forest dweller Jon, who was abandoned to a life of solitude first by his scarred, malformed face, then by his mother when she favoured Hollywood, and then by his hard-as-nails grandmamma, who succumbed to old age, leaving him to eke out existence in an unknown cave, a fact of which everyone else remains forever ignorant.
The teenage Jon thinks he has put paid to the evil, and makes moves to protect the dead girl he finds. But no - this is still the 1950s, and from our title we know the horror will abide 'til a more modern time.
This first block of hundred pages is finely written, with a clear style that very unshowily goes about placing the reader right in the wooded hills, overlooking the evil goings-on. There is a nice, blunt inevitability to the children's deaths, slasher-film style, if not to their finding.
However, much of the suspense, drama and claustrophobia is thereafter ruined. The next hundred pages are a quite unexciting spread of characters arriving, in modern times, at a rural hotel, bringing their children right into the scene of peril. While the characters are nicely drawn, and they're introduced by event and not waffly description, a lot of the section is uninviting, and any hints at the supernatural past and horrific future are too few and far between, and too obvious.
Luckily, the book settles down with this dozen hotel clients, and an ever-spreading and ever-better ride of drama, as they split up, get injured, fall over the goodies and think they're baddies, everything in fact to allow for a decent horrific thriller to evolve from the doldrums just passed.
Again, thankfully, the writing places us there - the sense of being in snowy dark woods is only part paralleled by The Shining's steadicam shots in the snowy hedge maze. I will insist we could have come to care for our characters in a much more economic way, but care we do (apart from the obvious rum-un, who will evidently get his comeuppance), right through all their individual perils up to the by-numbers ending.
I found nothing detrimental to the book apart from that, and the build-up of the dramatis personae from pages a hundred to two hundred and fifty - the grist of the story is compelling, and there is a lot to welcome here. But consideration should have been made as to length (it's 500pp if a quick five hundred) and a less charitable reader will possibly find the amalgamations of danger and variety of locations different combinations of people put themselves in a bit much too.
I, however, really enjoyed the filmic style and found a distinct creepiness in turning the pages late at night. Abiding Evil is a flawed book, but certainly worth considering. My rating of three and a half stars should get a whole extra one for when you're snowbound in a secluded rural hotel. If (when?) you're in that situation you could read no better to give yourself a spook.
You might like to have a look at Travelers Rest by Keith Lee Morris.
You can read more book reviews or buy Abiding Evil by Alison Buck at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Abiding Evil by Alison Buck at Amazon.com.
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