Blighters is not the novella I signed up for. When I heard about a horror story featuring gigantic alien space-slugs with huge gnashing teeth, I anticipated schlock, carnivorous gore and a pacy, rip-roaring narrative.
Blighters is not that book, and thank goodness for that; it is much, much more.
Becky is our flawed, prickly, but endearing protagonist, scarred by the tragic passing of her parents. She lives in a near-future world inhabited by “blighters”, which are gigantic gastropods that plopped from the sky a few years previous. Most of these terrifying slime-bags, which are the size of buses, died upon impact with the earth, and those that survived simply remained where they landed.
The twist with blighters is that, rather than spreading terror and destruction as one might expect in a horror story, they actually radiate peace and love, man. The oozy bliss that they offer is so desirable to the average human that people (and sometime whole countries) are willing to risk lives for a taste. In a similar manner to the indie film Monsters (2010), the story takes place against a backdrop of alien life, and is about the characters’ responses to their presence instead of the space-slugs physically wreaking carnage themselves. It is a tale about how people react to tragedy, to everyday trials, and to the possibility of an easy way out. It explores the very human need for solace and all that we are willing to risk for the promise of redemption.
Blighters is an effortlessly readable book sprinkled with subtlety and insight, humour and honesty, and was a very pleasant surprise. It is everything that I was not expecting a book about giant space-slugs to be, and is so much better for it.
Gorehounds and schlockfiends steer clear – this is strongly recommended for fans of original and uniquely weird fiction.