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The Last Haunt Max Booth Iii Main

"The Last Haunt" Book Review

Written by Chris Deal

Published by Cemetery Gates Media

the last haunt max booth iii poster large

Written by Max Booth III
2023, 123 pages, Fiction
Released on September 19th, 2023


The horror genre brings many types of people under its fold, for any number of reasons. Some just want to be scared. Perhaps it’s the chemical rush of simulated or imaginary danger they are seeking out. There are also those who want to be the ones doing the scaring, who take pleasure in being the source of terror. Perhaps they want to take control of what scares them, to take back the power of their own fear, or maybe they identify with the boogiemen.

With The Last Haunt, Max Booth III gives us a look at Gus McKinley, owner and operator of the extreme haunt McKinley Manor. After signing an obscenely long contract, the Manor’s contestants are willingly put through torture and degradation to beat the haunt, to be the one who can finally make it through and win $50,000 that may or may not exist. McKinley Manor is well known to the residents of the small Texas town, Pork Basket, where Gus has built the manor in the unassuming house he calls a home. A nightmare to his neighbors, following a horrific introduction that well acquainted him with the local police and introduced him to his biggest fan, Gus McKinley went on to build a viral empire. Rumor runs rapid throughout his community, in person and online, that the haunts are being streamed and gambled on in dark rooms around the world. All this leads up to the death of an innocent vying for that $50,000, and ultimately, the McKinley Manor Massacre.

Each character gives a unique voice to the violence, from Gus’s neighbor to the local sheriff, his father to his love, his ex, the local juvenile delinquents who serve as his employees, to the victim’s brother, the one blamed for the massacre that brings it all to a horrific end. Each character takes time away from their lives to be interviewed for the book being read, giving The Last Haunt something of a mocumentary approach.

This approach gives commentary to a central theme of the novel: the voyeuristic nature of horror. When watching a slasher, are we rooting for the victim or the monster? There is a whole online community surrounding McKinley Manor watching the violence, rooting for Gus as he and his delinquents beat and waterboard the willing participants of the haunt. After the death of Jessica Henderson, this same community takes pleasure in taunting and harassing her family. Is the audience of horror the same?

To interrupt this scene would have meant denying ourselves the privilege of experiencing something wholly unique and bizarre.

The Last Haunt is to the brim with references, most prominently the real manor that gives inspiration to Booth’s tale. The real haunt, McKamey Manor, is discussed in the 2023 documentary Monster Inside: America’s Most Extreme Haunted House, with the same discussion of how real it is and if there really is a prize at the end. With such a real-world basis, The Last Haunt is quite the exciting read, giving the reader thrills and plenty to think on despite such gruesome scenes.

You don’t become a cop for the opportunity to stumble upon the inside of another human being.

There are only two questions that remain at the end of The Last Haunt: is Jessica’s brother telling the truth about the brutal massacre, and what was up with the dog food?


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

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