Ginger Nuts of Horror
YOU DON'T PLAY IT... IT PLAYS YOU.
The prolific and talented Adam Millard is back, this time with a rolloking action horror tale set in a seaside town. DISCLAIMER The publisher of this novel, The Sinister Horror Company, also published my debut novel GodBomb! That said, my normal review rules apply - I only review books that I a) finish and b) enjoy.
The Bad Game was simply a joy from start to finish. It’s got all the hallmarks of quality I’ve come to expect from Millard’s work - superb pacing, believable and well rounded characters that are economically drawn, and a gloriously fun premise. I found the style overall to be played a bit straighter than some of his more aggressively humorous work (like, say, Larry), but there’s still a joy in storytelling that comes through in the infectiously readable prose and occasional sarcastic aside.
I particularly enjoyed the characters of Jamie and Scottie in this book. Jamie was a kid I found to be almost too relatable - nerdy, hooked on classic arcade gaming, with the typical small town bully problem, allied with the wider issues of being a teenager, no prospects, no obvious way out… yeah, I’m pretty much hardwired to like this kid.
Similarly, Scottie I found to be a flawed but deeply sympathetic character, with genuine humanity and pathos, even before his deeper backstory was revealed. This is a book firmly in the pulp/splatterpunk tradition, but Millard still takes the time and care to craft characters you like, enjoy, and root for.
Likewise, once the plot starts rolling, it basically doesn’t stop. Millard does a superb job of both raising the stakes and propelling events forward to a satisfying and gripping climax. There is brutal violence and gore a-plenty, but also a deep rooted sense of fun,and yes, love - love for genre, and love for story.
Ultimately, that loves runs throughout this novel. Yes, it’s fast paced, pulpy fun, with a plot straight out of a classic 80’s horror movie. It’s also a novel with great characters, some genuinely touching moments, and ultimately, lots of heart. Highly recommended.