Lyrical Underground (27 Sept. 2016)
"There's a big storm coming, and its coming for to wash us all away" or so says Scott H Biram in his song Judgement Day. In many ways this is the perfect theme tune the the latest novel from Mary Sangiovanni. Chills sees your typical all American small town cut of from the rest of the world by an unseasonably huge and devastating snow storm. But that is the least of the worries for detective Jack Glazier as the discovery of a body, which appears to have been killed in a ritualistic murder leads him to uncover a secret plot to bring the old ones back to our realm. As the bodies pile up and the fabric between our dimensions thins Glazier is in a race against time to save not just his home town, but to save the world being washed away by creatures beyond our imagination.
Chills is one of those rare novels, that just grabs you, thanks to Sangiovanni's immensely readable narrative style, it will have you tapping your metaphorical feet in time to it's fluid prose. Like Biram's mix of blues and country Sangiovanni has created a novel that successfully mixes police procedural novels with high concept horror into gutsy and memorable story that has perfect rhythm and a killer riff.
The trapped small town horror novel has been done a million times before, and yet Chill's feels as fresh, as a crisp winter morning. It successfully captures the impending doom facing our world with a sense of dread that matches that invoked by Bradbury's Something Wicked. Sangiovanni weaves the bigger picture narrative, of the return of the old ones and the inevitable demise of our world, with the more personal elements of the story with the nimble hands of a master story teller.
Sangiovanni keeps the reader hooked throughout the novel thanks to a cast of well rounded characters that play off each other brilliantly and suitably gruesome set of creatures hell bent on taking over our world. However it is the interplay between the detective and the secret cult of occultists that really makes this novel stand out. The tag line of the books likens it to True Detective, I'd say that this doing the book a slight disservice, as Chills, for this reviewer, is more akin and on par with such greats as The Devil Rides Out, such is the sense of dread that the book invokes. The stripped down prose is perfect for this novel, not a word is wasted in the 200 or so pages of the book, giving it a fast paced, gritty and captivating reading experience.
As Halloween approaches and the nights get colder Chill's is the perfect way to ushering in the chilling season, a fast paced, highly enjoyable read, with enough scares to keep you entertained through these fast approaching dark nights.