"Curse the Names" Book Review

Written by Gabino Iglesias

Published by Akashic Books

Written by Robert Arellano
2011, 200 pages, Fiction
Released on December 27th, 2011


Some books seem to defy classification by walking in tight circles at the junction of more than two distinctive genres. In the case of Robert Arellano's Curse the Names, the story dances between neo-noir, a classic psychological thriller, a creepy horror story, an apocalyptic tale and a paranormal narrative. Regardless of the plethora of genres it could be classified as, the important thing is that the novel is a well-written example of what a talented author can accomplish when he or she sets out to shine some light on the fragility of the human psyche.

Curse the Names tells the story of James Oberhelm, a reporter for the Los Alamos National Laboratory that spends his days putting together articles and profiles on very important scientists and what they do on the weekends. When a sexy blood technician invites Oberhelm to a party at an abandoned cabin in the woods and never shows up, the reporter ends up with a growing interest about what he finds there and a strange picture that kills his camera and his computer. As he researches to satisfy his curiosity about this place, he stumbles upon a world full of nightmares and very real dangers where a radioactive apocalypse is right around the corner and forces are coming together to keep him from getting the word out.

While the story itself takes many twists and turns, Arellano's taut, fast prose truly shines is in the way he coolly takes us down Oberhelm's quick path to self-destruction. The reporter puts everything aside and we watch his life, identity, life savings, house, wife, job and even the dog, fall by the wayside as the nightmares, the tension and the substance abuse turn Oberhelm into a single-minded man on a very dangerous mission.

In the end, the fear of a devastating accident and the strange, gory visions of people walking around with no skin that Oberhelm sees on the rare occasions in which he sleeps become less important as everything that seemed real begins to crumble and the reporter is left with nothing but a message that might or might not really need to be communicated.

Curse the Names is a dark, fast thriller that delivers brutally honest narration and a main character readers won't soon forget. If you enjoy your scary scientific data bathed in psychological tension, this book is a must read.



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