Kill Creek — Scott Thomas

Kill Creek

TITLE: Kill Creek
AUTHOR: Scott Thomas
RELEASED: October 31st, 2017; Inkshares
GENRE: Horror
AGE RANGE: Adult

SYNOPSIS: At the end of a dark prairie road, nearly forgotten in the Kansas countryside, lies the Finch House. For years it has perched empty, abandoned, and overgrown–but soon the door will be opened for the first time in many decades. But something waits, lurking in the shadows, anxious to meet its new guests.

When best-selling horror author Sam McGarver is invited to spend Halloween night in one of the country’s most infamous haunted houses, he reluctantly agrees. At least he won’t be alone; joining him are three other masters of the macabre, writers who have helped shape modern horror. But what begins as a simple publicity stunt soon becomes a fight for survival–the entity they have awakened will follow them, torment them, threatening to make them part of the bloody legacy of Kill Creek.

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Evidently, my autumn 2018 aesthetic is devouring every haunted house story I can get my hands on, and Kill Creek has been one of the strangest, most unexpected stories yet. It makes perfect sense that it’s being adapted for Showtime right now, because I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that felt as much like a horror movie/show as this one does.

No house is born bad. Most are thought of fondly, even lovingly. In the beginning, the house on Kill Creek was no exception.

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First, the house itself is easily my favorite aspect of this novel. It’s got this incredibly morbid past with a slew of haunting incidents, bizarre old ladies (because what’s a good haunted house without a creepy old lady haunting it, honestly?), and a stairway leading to a solid brick wall. The atmosphere? On point.

“Funny thing about rumors,” Sebastian said softly. “It doesn’t matter if they’re true or false, only that people believe them.”

Not only do I love a good, atmospheric location, but Kill Creek brings a cast of complex and interesting characters to the table, too. There’s Sam McGarver, the primary main, who won me over from the very beginning by introducing himself with a tangent about subgenres and what defines gothic horror. He’s got a twisted background that is only revealed to us in snippets here and there, each one darker than the last, but he’s a genuinely good guy and you can’t help but root for him.

Next up is TC Moore, who I initially held conflicted feelings about but grew to enjoy. She’s an extreme horror author, and consistently the butt of jokes about the sexual and graphic content in her stories (which felt very true-to-life considering the way much of the horror literature fandom treats fans of extreme horror, as well as the authors themselves). Sam is quick to come to her defense in a way that’s just obvious enough to indicate that the petty teasing isn’t the author’s own perspective on extreme horror.

Then comes Daniel Slaughter, the Christian teen horror author whose entire character arc cracked me up, because I grew up in a strict religious home where I was limited to religious or “clean” fiction for a long time, and Daniel reminded me way too much of a few authors I reached for as a kid. I’m seeing a lot of reviewers call him the RL Stine knock-off character of the story, and I could see that, but I’d also say he reminds me of Frank Peretti. (Hangman’s Curse, anyone?)

And finally, my favorite—Sebastian Cole, our King-esque trendsetter. He’s an older gentleman who’s been a bestseller for nearly as long as the other three have been alive, and he’s full to the brim of advice despite holding a few outdated opinions on the genre. He’s downright full of surprises—both good and bad—but ultimately, I’m always a sucker for the “old mentor” character archetype.

She stayed because the men did. She stayed because of pride. She had fought too hard against these condescending pigs to walk out now.

So far, we’ve got the mood, setting, characters—all that’s left to rave about is the action, which doesn’t pick up right away, but bear with it, because the second half makes up for it. The ending had me on the edge of my seat, totally unwilling to tear myself away for even a moment, and just when I thought I had figured things out, a wrench would be thrown in the works that totally threw my guesses out the window.

I only have two negative things to say about Kill Creek, so let’s get them out of the way:

  1. The pacing, at times, is a struggle. There are segments that dragged, though they are filled with enough character building that I was never necessarily bored. I just wanted a little bit more from those chapters.
  2. TC Moore. Don’t get me wrong, I love angry feminist characters. I relate to them (ha!). Moore just takes it to this unreasonable level at times, so there were occasional moments where I couldn’t tell if these features were just part of her character, or if it was intended to be an exaggerated, caricature. Given that she progresses into a tremendously more likable person as the story goes on, and I found myself rooting for her by the end, I think the intentions were good, but she grated on me for the first 100 pages or so.

The house on Kill Creek still stands. Empty. Quiet. But not forgotten. Not entirely. Rumors are its life, stories its breath.

That’s it! All that raving and only two (pretty minor) issues, so I’m sure it’s no surprise that I gave this 4.5 stars (and felt comfortable rounding up to 5). If you enjoy unique haunted house stories and don’t mind a solid helping of character development and world-building within your horror, I strongly recommend grabbing a copy of Kill Creek and settling in. This would be a perfect addition to your Halloween reading list!

5leaves


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Just a 26-year-old trying to juggle motherhood, grad school, blogging, gaming, and everyday life.

20 thoughts on “Kill Creek — Scott Thomas

  1. I loved this too! I had fun figuring out which author each character was molded after, I thought it was a great idea on the author’s part to use those archetypes😀

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  2. I’m so excited that you wrote a review on this, because I’ve been considering reading it sooner than later! I already have the audiobook, but haven’t had time for it yet. I think this will definitely be added to my October TBR!

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      1. Thank you! And I doooo recommend it! I’ve read it like 3 times haha. And I’m a big fan of Brite’s earlier work…but I also know that it’s not for everybody 😛 His books The Crow: The Lazarus Heart and Lost Souls are also 2 faves!

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    1. Agreed! I honestly never get tired of a good haunted house. I was sold from the beginning, when Sam was explaining what creates a gothic novel to his students, and he was delving into all of the finer details, like a specific setting, or a narrator keeping a secret – and then Scott Thomas goes on to implement all of those things in the book itself? BRILLIANT.

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  3. Oooh I think I might have to pick this one up! I’ve been looking to start getting into more seasonal reading and I feel like Halloween is the best place to start!

    Also I really love the way you set up your reviews! I may be stealing some ideas for when I come back to blogging soon…

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