The mall is supposed to be a place where the not-so-innocent youth can hang out terrorizing squares, a beacon of hope for a girl in a last ditch effort to find the perfect dress, and somewhere for good ol’ regular old folk can pick out fresh gear. This modern oasis for blind consumerism is the perfect place for an evil entity to dig its claws into the malleable minds of shoppers. The crowds shuffling through the food court, lured by the promise of buy-one-get-ones and deep discounts are relaxed, prime for the pickin’ and surely not expecting the mallpocalypse that is slowly brewing in their beloved shopping paradise. That’s the premise for Nile J. Limbaugh’s recent Samhain Publishing release, Genesis of Evil.
Prolific architect, Joseph Lucas, designs the ultimate boatel and mall in Trinidad, Florida, but his strange death, in the mall of his own design, triggers a series of events that seem to escalate in gruesomeness. Chief Gerhart must put the pieces together if he has any hope of saving his town and its denizens.
From Samhain Publishing:
Something unholy is waiting!
Shopping should be fun, especially in the shiny new mall just completed in this Florida coastal town. But something strange is happening to those who go there. At first it seems like nothing more than malicious pranks. The dessert chef who mixes a laxative into the chocolate mousse. The middle-aged lady who urinates on the changing room floor. But things steadily change from prank and theft to murder and mutilation. Something evil and deadly has taken residence in the mall—and in the minds of the customers. Now the Chief of Police, helped by a beautiful young woman with telekinesis and a team of paranormal researchers, must stop this unseen menace that is growing more powerful by the minute. But with the evil beginning to spread, is it already too late?
The premise of this story isn’t necessarily something new. We’ve read plenty of stories about evil spirits and malevolent ghosts haunting various architectural sites. Although the Trinidad Mall isn’t built on an ancient burial ground – in fact, it has seemingly no tragic history to hinge a haunting on – there are obvious nods to Poltergeist (1982) for example. And I can’t be sure, but is the poisoned chocolate mousse a wink to Rosemary’s Baby? The revelations that bring us closer to the origin of the possessed mall don’t offer any surprises either, but that’s not to say Genesis of Evil isn’t entertaining.
Even though the storyline is recognizable and the plot somewhat predictable at times, Limbaugh’s writing really shines in the individual kill scenes when the mall is possessing unsuspecting shoppers and workers. Limbaugh’s black humor is well executed on the mall’s victims. He or the possessed mall rather, exposes people’s most base desires in an affront to their supposed civilized nature which is complimented well by the consumerist setting.
The Right Reverend Rimer Tillotson lurks around the arcade, eyeing illegal flesh lasciviously; people are murdered; a mall security guard fatally disfigures himself crashing through a display window to get to a bikini clad manikin. In these scenes, Limbaugh goes all the way. He doesn’t hold back on any of the gory details, but in the normal moments characters share away from the mall he sometimes falls short.
For example, there is a scene where two characters finally give in to the sexual desire they exhibited early on in the book. They embrace, look deep into each others eyes, then suddenly they’re in bed and the woman is moaning in erotic bliss. No cupping of the breasts, no dry humping, no nipple pinching, just right down to business. This reader needs more foreplay. I didn’t find the woman’s exultations of passion plausible either.
“You can…oh, yesss. You can do that, too. Oh, sweetheart. There. Yes. I want to…oh my God.”
It can be difficult to capture that bedroom passion in dialogue which is why I would’ve preferred if Limbaugh cut out the dialogue all together and just described the burning loins, heaving breasts, whispering in ears that tickle the spine. Limbaugh could’ve scaled back on some of the character history, in particular Chief Gerhart’s wife, and beefed up the intimate moments between characters like the one mentioned above.
Despite a predictable plot and shortcomings with character development, Limbaugh showed a lot of promise where it counts; the core horror scenes, the kills. If there was more meat to the characters this would’ve been a homerun for me. I would recommend this to readers looking for an evil possession / haunted house story if you don’t mind some predictability and like innovative kills.
You can pick up Genesis of Evil and other Samhain titles at their website here.