While I generally have a great outlook on horror fiction and the efforts of upstart authors, there are some times where even my expectations are blown right out of the water. There are also times where I’m left holding a stinker that I wish had been sent to one of our other reviewers.
This, however, was not one of those cases.
When Ed Kurtz released Bleed onto the world, I was incredibly impressed. Same goes for Tobin Elliott’s Vanishing Hope – a novella/chapbook from Burning Effigy Press. J.R. Parks’ The Gospel of Bucky Dennis was another one that shook me all night long, and the works of a few others have kicked my ass and made me regain my faith in the genre (which is waning, let me tell you). The above mentioned are some of the folks out there who are doing everything they can to make reading fun again.
And then there’s Adam Cesare – a man who not only wrote one of the best first efforts I’ve ever read, but also managed to craft a novella that has all of the appeal and entertainment found in the sticky theaters of a 1970s era 42nd street. This book may very well be the one that brings both horror film and fiction fans under the same roof to rejoice in the glory that is cannibalism. And yes, Cesare is bringing the entrees.
In the early 80’s – at the height of the ultra-violent “Italian cannibal” grindhouse film craze – a small international cast and crew descend on an isolated Caribbean island, hoping to crassly exploit the native talent.
But the angry, undead spirits of the island have a different, more original script in mind. And as horror after staggering horror unfolds, the camera keeps rolling. To the blood-spattered end…
– from amazon.com
Under the Ravenous Shadows line, curated by legendary author/screenwriter/editor John Skipp, Cesare has offered up a classic cannibals-in-the-jungle story, added his own wicked twist, and managed to channel Jack Ketchum, Ruggero Deodato, and Umberto Lenzi into one furiously fast-paced, and brutally unforgiving read. The fact that this unrelenting read is staged in a semi-script format lends credence to my previous comment regarding film and fiction fans. This was obviously written by someone who knows both of these arts very well, and makes me wonder if it was a clever ploy to subconsciously poke both groups into submission. If that’s the case, Cesare has accomplished his goal with me, at least.
Cesare has the chops to bring down a lot of the big boys, and isn’t afraid to wield his words like an almighty sword of literary power. His characters do exactly what they’re supposed to do, and his more ethereal jaunts into supernatural territory work effectively beside his real-life situations. This, my friends, is apparently a tough feat to accomplish these days, as proven by the half assed and slovenly attempts I’ve seen in just the last few months. Even the prologue to the main story is a brilliant example of the author’s ability to play in various literary landscapes.
Truth be told, this is exactly what I’m looking for in fiction, and exactly what I’m looking for in film as well. If Cesare thinks he’s going to get off with keeping himself stationed in fiction, he’s got another thing coming. Like Lamberson and several others, this is a man who is obviously meant to write for the screen. It would be a sin to have him leave his literary pursuits, especially since his career has just begun, but to see these words made flesh would be a real treat.
Skipp made a brilliant choice in throwing this publication at the masses with the first outing of his Ravenous Shadows imprint. It’s pieces like this that make readers become aware of powerhouse presses, and Skipp’s expert editorial skills ensure that RS is going to go far. Hopefully we’ll see a lot more of Cesare’s work in the near future. In fact, I’m sure we can count on it.
Grab yourself a copy of Adam Cesare’s Tribesmen and see what I mean.