Ezra is going through a rough patch. His girlfriend breaks up with him over a stupid misunderstanding, he has to move, his car is in the shop, and he just found out his dad died. After attending the funeral, his mom hands him his inheritance, a creepy old ventriloquist dummy named Virgil. Ezra is less than impressed and is considering selling Virgil when he gets home, but on the way, Virgil takes him by surprise. Virgil is alive. The following accident leaves Ezra and Virgil trapped together and Virgil is one sinister little bastard.

That is the premise of this simple, but excellent novel by Jeff Strand, who has been in the business long enough to be considered a reliable supplier of chills and macabre humor. There are some of both in Creep Out, which was released this year. It's a little more on the chilly side, especially as we delve into the history of how Virgil came to be. Perhaps the most chilling aspect is an unseen force that is not explained or described in the story but is ultimately the source that makes Virgil tick. His origin makes him an understandable villain.

Up until the end, the story is dark and uncompromising. Strand doesn't take any prisoners with this story. I found myself wrapped up in this one and read it quickly.

I've only had limited exposure to Strand's bibliography. I've read a few short stories as well as his early novel Pressure (I also have his recent sequel Deathless, which I'll review another time), Wolf Hunt, Wolf Hunt 2, Blister (more of a crime thriller than horror story), and his Stoker award-winning novella 20th Anniversary Screening. Creep Out is the most recent to add to this list but it will not be the last. Look out for further reviews. A-

No comments

The author does not allow comments to this entry