Ginger Nuts of Horror
by Tony Jones
“Outstanding haunted house debut novel”
Once-in-a-while we stumble upon a novel which defies all expectations and hits the nail slap bang in the centre of the head, “Kill Creek” by Scott Thomas did exactly that. At first glance there is nothing at all original about this highly entertaining debut novel which borrows many ideas from other books. However, it messes around the horror clichés so cleverly the result is an intoxicating read which I sped through in a few nights loving every minute.
I took the plunge on “Kill Creek” after Shane Keene recommended it: "A slow-burn, skin-crawling haunted house novel that had me on the edge of my seat until the last page. This debut establishes Scott Thomas as a force to be reckoned with on the horror scene. " If you don’t know who Shane is check out his website https://shotgunlogic.com/ as he is one of the very best horror and dark fiction reviewers in the business. Few know horror as well as this dude and he was right on the money with this book and he reviews regularly for various leading horror sites.
The publisher Inkshares operates with a crowdfunding model instead of agents and acquisition editors in deciding what to publish. Their community of readers can pre-order a book project on Inkshares.com, and if the project hits its funding limit, Inkshares brings the book to life by providing editorial services, design, production, national distribution, and marketing. If “Kill Creek” is a good example the quality of novel that comes out of Inkshares then I will be paying a very close interest to their future releases. They have a very good track record after recently releasing the excellent “A God in the Shed” a few months back.
What of the “Kill Creek” plot then? Like I said nothing new, except for a haunted house story cleverly manipulated into a time-spanning tale that pulls four suckered horror authors into a dark sinister web. The prologue reveals the house has a dark past, and when two spinster sisters Rachel and Rebecca Finch purchased it in 1975 it had already developed a dark reputation stretching back to the days of slavery. Some years into their residency Rachel invites Dr Adubel, a well-known paranormal expert to spend time in the house, he writes a book about his experiences and “Phantoms of the Prairie” becomes a bestseller. The book ensures the house’s reputation as one of the scariest places in America is truly cemented.
Flip forward some years into the main part of the story, a popular internet supernatural TV host, known only as Wainwright, invites four very well-known horror writers to spend a night in the house. In some ways this is the oldest cliché in the horror book; spending a night in a haunted house. However, the author really spices it up, as what follows is a slow burner which builds wonderfully over the duration of the novel. In actual-fact, very little of the novel takes place in the house, but it casts a long and dangerous shadow as the four authors find out.
Many of the most entertaining sequences derived from spotting traits, or at least guessing, which writers Scott Thomas might have based his four bestselling authors upon? Maybe it was nobody at all, but I have a feeling there are bits and pieces of Stephen King, RL Stine and a good few others. These central four characters are very well-defined with Sam McGarver probably the main protagonist who suffers from writer’s block and currently teaches literature at college whilst his agent hounds him for his fourth unwritten novel. We also have Sebastian Cole, seen as the grandfather of modern horror fiction, a very cool female author TC Moore who writes violent and sexually explicit material and Daniel Slaughter a prolific teen writer whose novels usually have a strong Christian message. Sam and TC are the biggest characters, but the plot is revealed from all four points of view and their interactions with each other are a real strength of the book.
Although “Kill Creek” does borrow from classics such as “The Haunting of Hill House” I really liked the way the author avoided other stereotypical haunted stuff; there are no creaking staircases or branches clicking against tree windows, instead there is intense paranoia and a complex haunting story which is a thrilling read. You’ll be rooting for Sam and TC in no time at all, right up to the terrific ending. Many of us must have thought the haunted house novel was as played out as the zombie story, but Scott Thomas shows there is still life in the old haunted house yarn. An author to watch out for.