Genre: Extreme Horror
Publisher: Shadow Work Publishing
Publication Date: 18th April 2017
REVIEWED BY CHAD
Being honest up front, extreme horror is a genre that I am still hesitant to get fully in to. I don’t consider myself to be overly prude-ish, and I don’t steer clear because I think there is something fundamentally wrong with the devices of the narrative. I am not passing judgment on those who partake and there has been plenty of content in my books that is pretty dark and would turn away a lot of readers. So, a lot of this is a matter of degree and context.
I feel that extreme horror skirts a thin line. There is a subtle distinction between content that pushes too far and feels inappropriate, and scenes that are so powerful that you aren’t able to look away. Sometimes, I feel like the author just threw in some really gross stuff as an easier way to go after readers. Sometimes I feel like stories can become too much about form and details over substance.
Feast, by Thomas S. Flowers falls firmly into the camp of brilliantly conceived and executed stories with content that will challenge you and pack some serious firepower.
The book is evidently inspired by a Shakespearean play. I can’t say that I have seen or am aware of the original play but reading this book, I definitely got the feel of Shakespeare. Specifically, I loved how much the horrors of this story were driven by bad timing, of people being in the wrong place at the worst possible time. The characters in this book are on a collision course and there isn’t much we can do to stop it. All we can do is bear witness.
The story is based around two families in small town Texas, set against each other because of a tragedy that happens early on in the book, leaving one son dead and another daughter disfigured. What I loved about this is that while revenge stories are certainly nothing new, throughout this book, you’re never really sure whose revenge you should be rooting for. Instead of having one side that is clearly just, while the other is overtly evil, I found myself often disliking all sides of the equation. One moment, a character may seem sympathetic and one chapter later they are doing some horrible, depraved act.
This is an intense book, and it definitely doesn’t pull any punches. This is Flowers’s first foray into extreme horror but I have to say that his lack of experience does not show in the least bit. He manages to bring an expert balance of extreme, and restraint. The challenging moments happen at the precise moments in the story where I thought they were called for. And there was no point where I felt he was being gratuitous. What gross and disturbing scenes were there felt like they were serving a purpose
If I had any critical notes about the story, it would be that there is a character who sits at the center of much of the drama of the book, and I kind of wish I had understood his motives a little better than I do. There is also a key moment of the book where another character makes a key decision, in order to obtain some information. He makes a sacrifice that I had a hard time accepting as credible. I would have liked to have had more time in his head space so I could really understand why he did what he did. What I’m saying is that the book could have benefited from a little more time spent with some of the secondary characters. These are minor points however and did not detract from my overall enjoyment. And I can also see an argument to be made that, not understanding all of the character’s motives, lends an extra air to the horror and dread of the story.
I have long since stated that novellas are the superior story-telling format for the horror genre and this book is further proof of this point. The pace is quick and brutal. At times, you want to turn and look away but you just can’t. And when you reach the end and you realize what is about to happen, despite the horror and revulsion, you have no other choice but to carry on and see it out to the end.
Take this book on if you are ready for, and willing to take on a challenging story. It will push you to the brink of what you find acceptable and might even go a few steps farther. Despite it all, however, I found it worth the ride. And speaking as someone who doesn’t normally seek out this genre, I would still give this my seal of approval.
Outstanding work from Mr. Flowers.
★★★★★ extreme-ly superb.
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What would you do for family?
Between the rural Texas towns of Bass and Sat is one of the most popular barbecue restaurants in America. Big Butts Bar-B-Que has been the seat of power for the Fleming family since the Great Depression, but when tragedy and scandal beset Titus and his surviving transgender son Lavinia, deals are made to keep control of the restaurant. An arrangement that will put a father at odds with his legacy. As the table is set, is it just the keys to the barbecue kingdom some are after, or something else entirely?
An extreme horror story inspired by Shakespeare’s play Titus Andronicus.
CONFESSIONS REVIEWS THOMAS S FLOWERS
Thomas S Flowers was born in Walter Reed Medical Center, Maryland to a military family. He grew up in RAF Chicksands, England and then later Fort Meade, and finally Roanoke, Virginia. Thomas graduated high school in 2000 and on September 11, 2001, joined the U.S. Army. From 2001-2008, Thomas served in the military police corps, with one tour in South Korea and three tours serving in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. While stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, between deployments, Thomas met his wife and following his third and final tour to Iraq, decided to re-join the civilian ranks. Thomas was discharged honorably in February 2008 and moved to Houston, Texas where he found employment and attended night school. In 2014, Thomas graduated with a Bachelor in Arts in History from University of Houston-Clear Lake. Thomas blogs at www.machinemean.org, commenting and reviewing movies, books, shows, and historical content.
Thomas is living a rather simple and quite life with his beautiful wife and amazing daughter, just south of Houston, Texas.
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