"Will Haunt You" Book Review
Written by Steve Pattee
Published by Flame Tree Press
Written by Brian Kirk
2019, 240 pages, Fiction
Released on March 14th, 2019
Okay, before we even start this review, I highly recommend you read the fantastic…prequel, I guess…that author Brian Kirk wrote up for some participating sites, Horror DNA included. Start with part one here and if they aren’t kind enough to direct you to the next participating sites, here are parts two, three, four, and five. I’ll see you on the other side.
Caught up? Good. Now that you have an idea of what this mysterious book can do, let’s talk about Jesse Wheeler’s story, one that wastes no time getting started. After a reunion show at a local bar with his old band, The Rising Dead, the once-an-addict-but-now-sober Jesse is ready to head home before temptation can get the better of him. After staying longer than he would really want, he’s eventually able to leave the bar with a fellow bandmate in tow.
On the way home, the two are run off the road by some strange twins, who end up capturing Jesse and he soon finds himself a prisoner to an unknown captor, not knowing exactly why he’s in his current predicament; only that it may have something to do with the book his drummer convinced him to read. Side note, who does this? I mean, honestly, this is the equivalent of watching the video from The Ring and the first person you hand it off to is your friend. Unfortunately, it’s never explained as to why Jesse’s buddy suggests he read the book, which is a dick move all things considered. Also, if you’re confused, this is your own fault. I literally told you to go read that prequel. Maybe next time you’ll listen.
The plot of What Haunt You is a bit deeper than the pitiful synopsis I just provided (I’m so bad at these), but you get the gist. If not, here it is: there is a book out there that if you read it, some really, really bad things will happen to you. You know this because if you read that book, you’re reading the story of the very last person who was unfortunate enough to troll the pages. They read the story before their own, and so on. So I guess I’m screwed here because soon you (or someone else) will be reading my story.
There is a whole bunch to like about Will Haunt You, starting with how fast it moves. It comes in at 240 pages, but it reads the speed of a novella. That’s because Brian Kirk doesn’t waste much time with either getting to the point or the action. Poor Jesse never gets a break, and just when you think he might be free from those holding him hostage, he’s quickly dropped into another painful (be it physical or mental) situation. And when that’s not happening, you’re learning about his life, which is equally as painful. Granted, some of the tragic situations Jesse has been his own fault because of his days of drinking and drugs, but at the same time he’s turned his life around and is still getting punished for his past indiscretions.
I also dig how Jesse will frequently break the fourth wall to inform you what a mistake it is to be reading the book. This is a dangerous gamble because it could make the whole thing hokey, but it works. So much so, there was one particular sentence that made me take pause and stop reading. I even raised my head from the book and looked around. Then I laughed at my own foolishness and continued reading. Hats off to Kirk for that. I won’t say which one so you can hopefully have the same experience.
Jesse is the epitome of an unreliable narrator, and you are right there with him. By halfway through, you don’t want to trust anyone in Will Haunt You, and you become as paranoid as Jesse. That’s another shout to Kirk. Once you get into it, you don’t truly feel at ease until the last page. And even then you aren’t completely comfortable because, like life, things aren’t always sunshine and unicorns.
The only niggle I have is I really wish I knew why that idiot drummer friend of Jesse’s put him in this situation. Maybe I missed something, but I couldn’t help thinking throughout the whole thing just how much of a jerk he must be. I also wonder how he got his copy. But then you’re going down a rabbit hole.
But you know what? That’s neither here nor there because at the end of the day it doesn’t take away anything from Will Haunt You. Kirk has crafted something special here in that I was hooked from the first page onward and it’s so open for prequels and sequels. This can be an ongoing series, and I’m happy to devour each entry. Who knows, maybe when you check it out, you’ll be reading my story and this review won’t make any sense. We’ll see.
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