- Book Title: The Rascal
- Author: Eric Arvin
- Publisher: Wilde City Press (October 14, 2015)
- Book Length: 168 pages
- Genre: Thriller/Horror
- Reviewed by: Diane
- Rating: 4 Star
- Posting Date: October 30, 2015
The Rascal is a straight up horror tale with the makings of an ensemble cast but falls just short because of the narrative structure that flits from one POV to another. It also has only a passing acquaintance with the gay mainstream genre, offering a minor gay protagonist in a relationship, complete with child, though that factors little in the story until much, much later.
The setting is properly atmospheric if a tad precious about where it’s really located. There’s the creepy mansion on the hill, the creepier cabin on the cliff by the woods, the creepy town with creepy townsfolk and an uninviting makeshift road leading to Bad Luck Hill.
The story, after many fits and starts—including a prelude teaser—finally settles on a married couple on the outs because of the wife’s mistakes, an ex-movie star recluse with a penchant for spying from her widow’s walk, and various and sundry potential spirits, ghosts and ghoulies that inhabit the cabin and its surrounds.
This is a story of psychotic possession, mysterious disappearances, murder and revenge, with past and present intersecting at strange points. Jeff, the husband, becomes obsessed with the well behind the cabin. His persistence reveals evidence of past mishaps, and sets the stage for what follows. To call Jeff unlikeable isn’t putting too fine a point on it. His wife, the repentant Chloe, isn’t much better, but it’s primarily through her eyes we first observe the surroundings and the peculiarities of Lana the actress and some of the other strange characters who inhabit the Hill.
After a considerable amount of marital discord, angst and unnatural occurrences, the plot finally ups the stakes when Jeff’s brother Ethan arrives, only to find Jeff fighting for his life. Ethan and Chloe are immediately at odds, delaying the kind of communication that might have enabled Ethan to make informed decisions about the situation.
I never found a character worth rooting for, the plot lacked the kind of driving inevitability that clearly labelled this one cannon fodder, that one we’ll see, and there was a monotone quality to the frequent and unexplained loss of services that would have sent normal folks heading for civilization before the last candle died—but, then, horror tales aren’t known for being logical.
There were, despite the lack of sympathetic characters and too many points of view, sufficient moments of terror and suspense to keep me turning the pages, and there was a rather delicious denouement that perked me up considerably, leaving open many questions and finally establishing a feeling of pernicious dread.
If you like horror, this one will most definitely fit the bill. For this reviewer, it lacked focus, but made up for that with some interesting plot twists, especially at the end. The writing was evocative, the imagery not so intense as to keep you up all night with the lights on. This is a solid Four Star read.
Lana is a faded movie star who lives alone in a big house on a hill that overlooks the sea. She has lived this way since the death of her daughter and the disappearance of her husband.
Jeff and Chloe are a couple who live in a cabin below the big house. It was Chloe’s idea to strengthen their marriage; but she sees now that it isn’t working. Jeff has become obsessed with the cabin and the old water well. Chloe only sees strangeness around her.
One night while talking on the computer with Ethan, Jeff’s brother, a feeling of dread comes to the fore. When Ethan sees a figure behind Chloe, he leaves his boyfriend and baby and sets out to save Jeff.
Chloe, Ethan and Lana come together to fight an evil that would destroy Jeff. Will they succeed or will all of them fall to the taste of a young cannibalistic ghost?
Eric Arvin resides in the same sleepy Indiana river town where he grew up. He graduated from Hanover College with a Bachelors in History. He has lived, for brief periods, in Italy and Australia. He has survived brain surgery and his own loud-mouthed personal demons. Eric is the author of THE REST IS ILLUSION, SUBSURDITY, SIMPLE MEN, WOKE UP IN A STRANGE PLACE, and various other sundry and not-so-sundry writings. He intends to live the rest of his days with tongue in cheek and eyes set to roam.
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