"And Blood Did Fall" Book Review
Written by Tony Jones
Published by Demain Publishing
Written by Chad A Clark
2020, 96 pages, Fiction
Released on 4th September 2020
If you have never come across Demain Publishing, now is the perfect time to uncover a top-notch back-catalogue. Since 2019 they have released a series of eye-catching novelettes, most of which are in their Short Sharp Shock! series, individual short stories and other novellas. The range of authors on their roster is impressive, featuring Anthony Watson, Kev Harrison, Dave Jeffery, Dan Howarth, Richard Farren Barber, Steve Stred, Paul M Feeney, Theresa Derwin, Stephanie Ellis and many more. In September 2020, the "Short Sharp Shock!" series effortlessly moved beyond its fiftieth release whilst maintaining its trademark of quality, with a couple of my recent favourites being Steve Stred’s The One That Knows No Fear and Richard Farren Barber’s Coffin Walk. Be sure to keep an eye out for this cool indie publisher, which was founded by Dean M. Drinkel, who has a long track record in publishing, film, and writing.
Chad A. Clark is a perfect fit for the "Short Sharp Shock!" series, as he has penned some excellent novella-length fiction, including Winter Holiday and Winward, as well as impressive dystopian science fiction and numerous short stories. However, his masterpiece is undoubtedly Tracing The Trails: A Constant Reader's Reflections on the Work of Stephen King, an exceptionally detailed (and beautifully personal) look at the fiction of the world’s most famous horror writer, which is arguably the best book ever written about King and was amongst my top ten Horror DNA reads of 2018. I adored this meandering labour of love and if you ever want to know absolutely anything about ‘The King’, Chad is the man to ask and few write more lyrically on the subject.
And Blood Did Fall is Chad’s first novella for a while, but it was worth the wait and cleverly blends horror, thriller, and oppressive police procedural. For a 96-page story (I wish it were longer), there is a surprising number of characters involved in the action, brought together nicely with a very clever ending with a killer side twist. Considering the shortish page length, Clark is excellent at creating believable characters, including a lonely and unhappy barfly who gets bumped off early in the action, catching me widely off-guard, as his personality was already fully-formed and I was sorry to see the dude get killed off, especially as it was looking like life might be taking an upward turn.
Although And Blood Did Fall is clearly a supernatural horror story, it also has a convincing hardboiled crime feel to proceedings, with much of the action taking place in a dark gloomy city, with the police chasing an unknown but very deadly killer. If I were to describe this story, I would snappily tag it “Q: The Winged Serpent meets Jeepers Creepers” set in a city which has a serious Gotham City vibe which is drowning in crime, with the police losing control and seemingly helpless to do much about it.
Although there are several characters, the story is dominated by stressed female police detective Kim, who is at the end of her rope and believes her career has been held back by the fact that she is a woman and is being given the toughest unsolvable cases to solve with limited support from her colleagues. When the story kicks off, the police are tracking a serial killer, which due to the level of crime in the city has gone largely unnoticed by the public, even though the bodies are horribly mutilated and the count is increasing. However, the detective soon begins to join the dots and a deadly game of cat and mouse begins with the creature and Kim tracking each other.
I really enjoyed the gritty noir feel which permeates this story and the vulnerability that the central character has, especially in contrast to the invincibility from the enemy. Throwing in some impressive gore, action and kill scenes, the story could easily have been developed into a longer work. I sped read this in two sittings and had a fun time rooting for Kim, but the creature is very cool also, with an attitude all its own. If you have never read Chad Clark before, this is a great introduction or you could take a lucky dip on any number of great "Short Sharp Shock!" publications.
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