I know, I know–it’s been a few weeks since my last review. That isn’t because I’ve given up on blogging yet again, I promise. October and November have been two of the busiest months I’ve had for the past year or so, and something had to be paused for a bit. That something ended up being the flow of new book reviews, but what do you know–here’s a new one.
I’ll say up front that one of my big reasons for starting a book blog was to get free books. No, let me rephrase that–to get free books THAT I WANT. Free books are easy to find, all over the place, but most of them are pretty awful. There are places to get actual, real, desirable books for free, but that’s if you have an audience. I have a blog now, and have built up some good stats on some websites, which means that sometimes I get free copies of books that I want. Little Heaven is one of those.
Nick Cutter is fascinating to me. He’s a Canadian author who released some moderately successful stuff under his own name, and then decided to come up with an alter ego (Nick Cutter) and start over fresh. Reminds me of other famous pseudonyms over the years. The first book the author released under this name was The Troop, which absolutely, immediately, unabashedly hooked me.
The Troop is the story of a group of Boy Scouts who are cut off from civilization on an isolated island, and what happens when they start killing each other. Wait, do I need to take a step back here? I really like horror, sometimes. Even gross horror, occasionally. I’m much more likely to read something gross than watch a gross horror movie, for some reason. The Troop is reeeally bloody, really scary, and really dark. For what it’s worth, I had more fun with that book than almost anything else I read that year. Cutter’s follow-ups have also been very enjoyable, and I’m to the point now where I’ll snatch up anything that he writes, immediately.
Fast forward to Little Heaven, which will be released on January 10, 2017. As I mentioned earlier, I got a free copy of Little Heaven in return for an unbiased review, which you’re getting now.
The central idea behind Little Heaven is this: there’s a dense, dark forest in New Mexico. At the center lies something, buried down deep. That something is a malevolent force that preys upon the people and animals it can lure close enough to twist and pervert. Basically, that’s all you need to know to figure out whether you are going to enjoy this one or not.
There’s a charlatan preacher (who brings his flock to build the titular settlement near the bad thing). Three hit men (well, two men and a woman) are hired to go out to the middle of nowhere and bring back a child. Once they get there, however, they discover that they may have bitten off more than they can chew, and that they may have to pay a far greater price than they’d expected in order to leave.
The novel takes place in two different time periods, one in the 80s and one more than a decade later. In the earlier narrative, the story unfolds. In the later narrative, those who survived Little Heaven the first time around must continue the story despite their belief that they’ve put the horror behind them in their pasts.
There are elements of the story that remind me of other books, but I found the plot to be original and riveting. It’s relatively long, at nearly 500 pages, so it kept me occupied for a bit (especially in such a busy month).
You’ve got things crawling inside other things, things crawling OUT of other things, flies, self-sacrifice, possessed evil kids, guns and flamethrowers, a glass eye, supernatural talents, murder/death/mayhem, granted subconscious wishes, and a surprisingly touching love story. Even some tenderness, here or there.
Little Heaven was a very satisfying read for me. It had just enough character building to raise the stakes for me, and not so much that the narrative dragged. I loved the central characters, and it was refreshing to have more than a few viewpoints explored in the course of the story. I suspect that if you have any problem with gore, you might have a problem with any of Nick Cutter’s books, including this one. Horror can be very escapist for me, much as most genres of literature can be, depending upon my mood. The amount of blood and viscera is probably the only deal-breaker (for some readers).
I think that the branching narrative, multiple viewpoints, creative approach, and, yes, gore, all make this an excellent book. If any of these things appeal to you, I strongly suggest that you add it to your wish list for January. And if you read and enjoy it (or hate it), I’d love to hear your thoughts on what makes it fun/terrible for you.
I’m giving this a 97 out of 100! Although it currently has slightly below three stars on Amazon, I believe that the low ratings are attributable to advance readers who didn’t realize what they were getting themselves into. If you don’t find blood and dread enjoyable, stay away from this one. If your tastes are similar to mine, buy it immediately!