Iíll say this up front - James is a good friend of mine. The horror community is relatively small; a lot of us are friends or at least know of each other. And since James and I are friends, he knows me pretty well, and knows that I am honest in my reviews of fellow writers. And I can honestly say that The Wicked KICKS ASS.
The word going around on this book is that hearkens back to the 80s, when horror was found on paperback racks in any grocery or drug store. You know the ones - they pretty much all had black covers and lurid pictures that had nothing to do with the story inside. I have quite a collection of them myself.
James has a love of those old paperbacks and it shows in The Wicked, not only in the story, but in the cover as well. The cover is black, of course, but the creepy picture on the front does match the story. The cover also looks weathered and stressed, like an 80s book youíd find in a used bookstore. Itís so convincing that I was irritated at first, thinking Amazon had sent me a used copy. It didnít help that there is a sticker on the back that I thought was real as well. The book is put together perfectly.
So whatís on the inside? An amazing, creepy story of an ancient demon named Moloch that wants the souls of the people who live in the town of Morganville, North Carolina. It starts with a fire that takes the lives of the children who live in Heller Home. The demonís influence spreads to the entire town, seducing citizens into performing acts of murder and perversion.
The Little family have recently moved to Morganville from New York City of a violent incident almost tears them apart. They are determined to put their lives back together and become a whole family again, but find themselves caught up in Molochís evil. Will David Little be able to fight Moloch and save his family?
The Wicked is a lot of fun. Itís creepy, gory, completely inappropriate at times, and just an all-around rollicking read. It will make your jaw drop and your body cringe. You wonít be able to put it down until the very end, and then you will be disappointed that there is no more. But donít despair quite yet - there are a few fun goodies in the pages after the story.
I also really enjoyed the various references to the horror community - I wonít spoil anything, but if you read a lot of small-press horror, youíll get a kick out of them like I did.
And whatever you do, donít skip over the introduction by Mark Allan Gunnells. His love of 80s horror and of The Wicked is evident in his essay.
I have read several of Jamesís books and stories, and I have never been disappointed. The Wicked is one of his best, and I think it will give James the recognition he deserves, not only in horror, but as a great writer in general.
Review by Sheri White