Friday, May 08, 2009

Read Afraid -- BE Afraid!

When I was 18, I read The Exorcist. I then slept with all of the lights on for several nights.

I used to read Stephen King and Dean Koontz. Then Twilight Eyes made me wonder what if ghouls and goblins really were all around us but most of us couldn't see them behind their human faces. I was so freaked out by The Stand that I stopped reading when everyone was in the Lincoln Tunnel and never finished the book.

I've never seen a Halloween movie, Nightmare on Elm Street or any version of Friday the 13th. Less you think I'm a total wuss, I read a lot of psychological thrillers and mysteries with plenty of evil serial killers and psycho villains, but given the list of things I won't see or watch, you might correctly surmise that the horror genre generally scares the shit out of me.

So why did I demand to read Afraid by Jack Kilborn instead of running far from the author's table at the RT Booksigning? Well, during Kilborn's March-long blog tour, he all but dared readers. Challenged us even, with his description of the torturous evil and relentless string of murders he promised his book would inflict.
You know me. Can't back down from a dare. Besides, I love the Jack Daniels mystery series by Kilborn's alter-ego JA Konrath. How horrific could this book be?
Very. A red-ops team with scientifically-enhanced brains and bodies honed in Spec Ops warrior skills crash lands near a small, isolated town in Wisconsin. The fighters are programmed to fight terrorist strongholds with a very clear, three-point mission -- Isolate. Terrorize. Annihilate.

So what if there isn't an Al Qaeda operative to be found. So what if these are innocent people?

Imagine sick, twisted, psychopaths that achieve maximum pleasure from inflicting torture and fear on a target before killing them in the most painful way possible. Think about them showing up in a neighborhood with the freedom to do whatever they want to whomever they find. Then imagine them doing all that to hundreds of people... while you read about it in evocative, gut-twisting detail.
Wouldn't that scare the hell out of you? Really, if anybody started to do to me what some of those sick bastards did to characters in the book, I'd pray to die of a heart attack first. So why, I hear you wonder, did an admitted horror-weenie continue to read this book?

Simple. It's terrific.

Kilborn is a master storyteller. Even while he served me a severe case of the heebie-jeebies with the bloody descriptions of what happened in that high school locker room, told through the terrified eyes of a woman desperately hoping to escape the same fate, he compelled me to find out what happened on the next page after page after page after page.

He weaves in a number of twists and sets up an ever-increasing tension. He gives us characters to root for that we pray will survive. We have to believe in our guts that heroes will rise to defeat the evil. So we embrace a core group of people and hope that they'll be the ones still standing at book's end. This continues to propel us through the story.

Are our hopes realized or are they crushed in merciless detail?
I'm not telling. You'll have to read the book for yourself.

Leave the lights on.

Find out more at

No comments: