"Wormwood" Book Review
Written by Tracy Robinson
Published by Silver Shamrock Publishing
Written by Chad Lutzke and Tim Meyer
2020, 165 pages, Fiction
Released on December 15th, 2020
Baker Gray meets Cassandra Larrson and all bets are off. This coming-of-age horror novel follows Gray, his friends, and Cassandra as they navigate their place in this world. Well-written, authors Tim Meyer and Chad Lutzke blend their unique voices to craft a brutal tale of pain, love, and the search for acceptance.
Readers of Meyer and Lutzke may be hard-pressed to identify which parts belong to which author. On recent podcasts, the two have mentioned that the process started off trading back and forth. It quickly became an organic experience with each author staying true to themselves yet finding a way to meld with the other as each section reached completion. Wormwood is better for it, as readers experience quiet, poetic brutality and more upfront beauty and violence within the same book.
Wormwood starts off innocently enough. Baker and friends are up to business as usual when Cassandra comes on the scene. Things escalate and the synopsis mentions the lines between right and wrong begin to blur. This is portrayed expertly in the book. Readers will cheer for Baker and hearts will break as they so desperately want to help him, to guide him. This is the earmark of a good bildungsroman: excellent characterization and experiences that may be wholly different from that of the readers’ but yet are still recognizable and relatable.
As the novel passes the ¾ mark, Wormwood takes no prisoners. Meyer and Lutzke go DARK, and brutal is not a strong enough word for what happens next. Coming of age in a horror book is not a safe place. Growing into one’s own when it comes to sex and relationships and one’s place in the world is not always positive, and horror novels show this. Wormwood certainly does. The last parts take no prisoners and are difficult to read at times.
It is a great thing when a collaboration goes right, and Wormwood is proof. Lutzke and Meyer tap into all the feelings generated by a great coming of age story and they use those to craft a horror novel that shocks and satisfies.
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