Sunday, October 23, 2016


"All I ever wanted was a mad, mad world."
It feels like Ed Kurtz borrows a lot of this book's structure from much of Stephen King's small town work, especially 'Salem's Lot and Needful Things, where the story moves at a slow pace for the first half, introducing us to the various characters around town and getting you invested in their stories and their fate until all hell breaks loose. And that's just what happens here. Just not as effectively.

The everyday laid-back ambience in the small Arkansas town of Litchfield is shaken up with the arrival of a traveling movie roadshow. It's an educational "hygiene picture" meant to teach the kiddies and their parents about the horrors of sex but the locals discover that the roadshow's purpose is much more horrifying. We first learn about the people of Litchfield and not a whole lot happens initially, but then the story devolves into all kinds of scary shit like voodoo, werewolves, old silent films, circuses, creepy nurses, calliope music and even Hell itself.

And although Kurtz gives it a good try at first, the final half just doesn't work and all the pieces of Kurtz's story puzzle kept falling apart all the way to the end. The characters ultimately fell flat and their relationships never rang true, with some dying throwaway deaths that should have been more impactful. Attempts at a little levity and witty one-liners here and there just rang silly. There are also several good ideas in this book that should work well in any good horror tale, but they never came together as a cohesive whole for me. It felt like Kurtz had a bunch of ideas that he found interesting and tried to stitch together for this book but just couldn't get the threads to stick right. Some story points even felt forgotten about, or maybe they just weren't all that important to begin with.



*The hunt for Margie seemed really important at first but then everyone, including the author, seemed to just stop caring.

*What was the point of spending all that time on the hygeine picture when it's really not all that important? If the hygiene picture didn't exist at all in the book, and we just stuck with the midnight show as the roadshow, we wouldn't lose anything at all in the story.

*What was so special about Margie and Theodora, that they were spared of going crazy after watching the midnight show? And although Jojo and the priest didn't watch it, they were still under the same Barker magic, so what the hell is so special about them that they don't go crazy? And I don't buy the "a god just toyng with everyone" reason because that's cheap. There should be something to why this small group of special people that we are following are not affected.


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