"Clowns Vs. Spiders" Book Review
Written by Steve Pattee
Published by Amazon Digital Services
Written by Jeff Strand
2019, 183 pages, Fiction
Released on September 14th, 2019
There are a lot of things I like about Jeff Stand’s work, many of which I’ve mentioned in prior reviews. For example, I love how he can make you laugh-out-loud on one page and then make you cringe on the next. One thing I’ve never brought up though, and I feel I should briefly mention it, is his cover art. It always delivers. Just look at that cover above. How awesome is that? They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but what they don’t say is a slick cover will get more people to notice your book and artist Lynne Hansen, who has done the art for many of Strand’s novels (among other authors), always delivers. It’s important to credit the unsung heroes, especially when their work is just a taste of things to come.
The prologue for Clowns Vs. Spiders effectively sets the stage of the wild and wonderful trip Strand is about to take you on. A seemingly abandoned ship is discovered by Captain Blackhorse and his crew, and in his greed, Blackhorse decides to send a team over to scavenge the vessel. Four men go to investigate for treasure, but only two come back; followed by thousands of giant spiders. Who can swim.
83 years later, Jaunty the Clown gets a bad injury during his stint as a rodeo clown. In the hospital he meets Guffaw the Clown, who offers Jaunty a job in a traveling circus, which he takes once he’s released. There he befriends the rest of the team: Wagon the Clown, Bluehead the Clown, and Reginald the Pleasant Clown. The group becomes inseparable for the next 18 years and stays together even after they are fired for the reason that “People just don’t like clowns.” Soon after their termination, the gang is hired to be scary clowns at a popular haunted house in a town where those spiders were last seen running into the caves 100 years prior. One thing leads to another and…yeah, you see where this is going.
I think I praise Strand’s versatility in every review. The man simply cannot be tied down to one particular aspect of the genre. Fangboy is a delightfully sweet and just a little bit dark coming-of-age novel; Blister is ultimately a budding romance with bite; My Pretties is a tale of a serial killer; and Clowns Vs. Spiders is a hilarious journey watching two things a great amount of people hate fight to the death. One minute Strand is making you laugh, the next your heart is broken, and the next you’re damn near averting your eyes to avoid the pain on the page, and you love it all.
While I hate the cliché, Clowns Vs. Spiders is a damn freight train. It moves at a breakneck pace without an ounce of fat on it. From the moment the creepy crawlies are discovered on the ship, it just doesn’t stop. It’s absurd and hilarious and gross and a delightful adventure in the best possible way.
I’ve been asked by folks to recommend starting books from authors, and many times it’s the same answer. For example, if someone asked what book from Richard Laymon they should start with, I generally say The Cellar or maybe The Travelling Vampire Show. But when someone asks the same for Strand, my answer is always, “What are you in the mood for?” because his work is all over the place. In the case of Clowns Vs. Spiders, this is filed under “Recommended for people who want balls-to-the-wall action, gore, and hilarity.” Because it has all of that and more.
They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but when it comes to Clowns Vs. Spiders, yes, you certainly can. It is a ridiculously fun read from beginning to end.
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