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"The Horror at Pleasant Brook" Book Review

Written by Chris Deal

Published by Crystal Lake Publishing

the horror at pleasant brook poster large

Written by Kevin Lucia
2023, 348 pages, Fiction
Released on October 13th, 2023


There are certain tropes that appear over and over in horror fiction. Tropes done to bloody death, of course, but when done well enough they can elevate the trope and the genre itself. In The Horror at Pleasant Brook, author Kevin Lucia brings offers his take on the small-town horror, and in doing so shows a horror both ancient and personal.

You could call Pleasant Brook pleasant if you wanted. It aims to be, of course, but it is just another town kids dream of leaving. It’s got a thrift shop, a dinner diner, a bar, and a strip club, but little else aside from houses and a couple of churches. Nestled in the Adirondacks, it’s the type of place that makes you look up the definitions of “villages” and “hamlets” when trying to describe it. Some places are one stoplight towns, but Pleasant Brook is a one cop town. Constable Grace Matthews is that one cop.

Formerly a detective, Matthews has returned to her hometown to take the gig following the sort of situation that haunts a person. An out lesbian in a town with barely anyone else out, she knows everyone but also knows they don’t like her. Despite that she is good at her job, and when the horror of the title comes around, she’s the first to realize that something is up.

Lucia does a great job hinting at the evil that has arrived in Pleasant Brook. Starting with a failed ceremony born of despair and revenge, the malevolence here can be seen as a combination of various horror archetypes best left undescribed, but in such a unique and specific manner that the reader is compelled further along to understand what is happening. The spread of this evil can seem monotonous, introducing a character to either be brutally converted or to expand the breadth of story, if at least for a chapter or two, but it serves its purpose wonderfully to bring life to this small-town suffering in the aftermath of the Pandemic. Lucia further does a great job of using the various characters at play here to show how society was changed by the Pandemic, and the evil itself can be seen as a metaphor for that whole situation the world is coming out of. Beyond that, The Horror at Pleasant Brook does a great job of showing how people are becoming more themselves in the wake of being forced into their homes, and how it can seem that people are growing less afraid to hide who they are.

The reader can take this novel at surface level if they are so inclined, but at its best horror is a mirror held to society. Horror can be base titillation, or it can be there to illuminate the audience. With The Horror at Pleasant Brook, Kevin Lucia does both. Feeling at times like a classic horror paperback, there is a lot more in this novel, and a lot more for the reader to appreciate. This is a fantastic read.


Overall: 5 Star Rating Cover
Buy from Amazon US.
Buy from Amazon UK.

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