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They All Died Screaming Kristopher Triana Main

"They All Died Screaming" Book Review

Written by Tony Jones

Published by Blood Bound Books

they all died screaming kristopher triana poster large

Written by Kristopher Triana
2020, 226 pages, Fiction
Released on 26th October 2020


I read They All Died Screaming with great interest, as I was impressed by Shepherd of the Black Sheep (2018) and blown away by Gone to See the River Man (2020), the latter being one of the most outstanding releases of the year. However, this new novel does not reach the same heights; instead, it is more in tune with Triana’s output as a leading light in the Splatterpunk genre. I am unsure what exactly qualifies a novel to be ‘Splatterpunk’, but They All Died Screaming surely ticks many of the boxes. Fans of extreme literature will undoubtedly find much to admire here, but I found it a rather shallow and empty experience, which is violent purely for the sake of it.

Even if this vicious exercise in bad taste does split the critics, it also highlights the impressive literary range of Kristopher Triana, as it is light years away from the subtleties threaded into his clever thriller Shepherd of the Black Sheep, or the terrifying threat of dread which permeates throughout Gone to See the River Man. Your opinion may well be shaped by your tolerance for explicit violence, including multiple rapes, torture, bestiality, cannibalism, fetishes, and particularly filthy sex. If you are after depravity, there is a good chance you might find it within these pages and for those of a gentler disposition, heed this trigger warning and run a mile. You have been warned.

They All Died Screaming is told via two distinct story strands which converge very late in the plot, with the title referring to a deadly epidemic which starts in Canada and quickly spreads into the cities of America. In a nutshell, random people start screaming and cannot stop once they start. They quickly go insane, as they cannot eat or sleep and eventually kill themselves, but often violently brutalise those around them before their blood-soaked rampage concludes. To say they do not die quietly would be a major understatement. These scenes are not pretty, but are amongst the strongest of the novel. Going berserk, those afflicted do not feel pain and the bloodletting is crazily over-the-top as brains are smashed, eyes gouged, and babies murdered.

However, the scream segment of the story seems underdeveloped and more could have been done with it, as ultimately the ‘non’ scream story takes up 50% of the page-time and has zero connection until the very end. It is a great idea and it had me wondering what authors, such as Josh Malerman, like he did with Birdbox, or Paul Tremblay, as with Survivor Song, would have done with the concept? Instead of giving us a big picture, Triana focusses upon an incredibly unlikable group of wasters and down-and-outs. I doubt I have read a book with so many unlikable characters in quite a while, who spend their time looking for their next drink, sexual partner, or fight. Chuck, a sleazy unemployed forty-something, is the main character who spends the majority of his time at a local bar and is joined by dysfunctional loudmouth Leslie; a dockside prostitute; a nameless bartender; and a homeless guy called “Shitty”. The scream soon arrives on their doorstep and what does the group do? They head to the nearest off-licence before hitting Chuck’s flat to get drunk and hide from the apocalypse. Surprise, surprise, things do not go to plan.

Feel free to disagree with this observation: One could argue that the second story strand about a boy who is kidnapped from a shopping centre and ends up working at a rural pig farm is not essential to the plot. Instead it becomes the perfect opportunity to throw in torture, rape, bestiality, and a decent percentage of many of the book’s most depraved scenes, which ultimately has nothing to do with the scream pandemic. So, what is the point? Other that Triana cutting loose and spilling the blood, I doubt the ending is worthy of this section absorbing 50% a novel supposed to be about a scream pandemic. Also, this pig farm section is reminiscent of several other books much better than this; Joseph D’Lacey’s Meat would be an older example and Agustine Bazterrica’s recent and incredibly stylish Tender is the Flesh also has similarities. One of my favourite novels of 2019, Toby T. Luff's Ration, is another which springs to mind, which builds its brutality around a clever and intricate system which They All Died Screaming lacks. Violent it most definitely is, subtle it is not.

The blurb asks us: “Is The Scream a virus? A neurological phenomenon? A biological weapon?” Readers may well feel short-changed if they are looking for any major revelations or resolutions. Incidentally, both plots are so incredibly distinct, they could easily have been published as two unique novellas with a tinkering of the ending. The thread which begins with the kidnapping would retain the more graphic violence, whilst the scream section is ripe for further potential twists, which take the story to a level beyond the kinky group sex scenes it currently has.

The cover notes Triana’s Splatterpunk prize winning credentials and if that style rocks your boat then you will probably enjoy They All Died Screaming more than I did. Although I read it in no time, and did wince here and there, it could be more ambitious. As I said at the start, this author’s recent output has shown impressive versatility, and I await with interest what he throws at us next.


Overall: 3 Star Rating Cover
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About The Author
Tony Jones
Author: Tony Jones
Staff Reviewer - UK
Such is Tony’s love of books, he has spent well over twenty years working as a school librarian where he is paid to talk to kids about horror. He is a Scotsman in exile who has lived in London for over two decades and credits discovering SE Hinton and Robert Cormier as a 13-year-old for his huge appetite for books. Tony previously spent five years writing The Greatest Scrum That Ever Was, a history book very few people bought. In the past he has written for Horror Novel Reviews and is a regular contributor to The Ginger Nuts of Horror website, often specialising in YA horror.
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