Wednesday 23 December 2015

Dark Book Review – When The Devil Climbs

Dark Book Review – When The Devil Climbs

Review Written By Casey Douglass

When The Devil Climbs Cover

After a decade lost to addiction and criminality, Russ Grote is given an opportunity by his jilted ex-wife to reconnect with his son. But the day before the scheduled reunion, he and his coworkers are attacked by a horde of savage pigs infected with a mysterious virus. While taking refuge atop a billboard, the brutish crew of ex-convicts grow increasingly desperate and willing to do anything to survive. For any chance to reunite with his son, the most gruesome menace Russ must confront might be the one lurking inside of him.

My first thoughts after reading the above book blurb were something along the lines of “Excellent!”. I have long been a fan of dark and horror tales that take place with the victims holding up somewhere seemingly secure, but still trying to work a way out of things. It might come as no surprise to you that I really enjoy the first Tremors film for this very reason. I am also happy to say that 95% of Drake Vaughn’s When The Devil Climbs transpires with the hapless ex-cons stuck up in the guts of Big Bertha, the billboard they are tasked with working on when the snorting pigs eventually appear.

The location is an excellent choice for staging the kind of peril that the men face, with much dangling, shouting and swearing floating up into the soaring, searing sky. The pigs aren’t the only things they face, but dehydration, hunger, bad tempers and, as time progresses, a bit of madness. This is the other aspect of the tale, the slow drip feeding of knowledge about the characters, often in the reconciliatory phase after an argument or failed attempt at something. I think this is key to the tale holding the reader’s interest, as without these conflicts, man vs. pig would almost certainly have been far less interesting. Drake Vaughn does a great job at this back-story drip-feeding, the biggest revelations coming near the culmination of the tale.

If you are a gore fan, there are certainly some grim scenes, both in the moment and via flashbacks and introspection. The pigs certainly don’t mess around when they do get their teeth on something, be it human or another pig. The green snot that they expel is also nicely unnerving, adding a dash of colour to the tale beyond the occasional spilling of blood. At no point did the gore feel unduly extravagant or unwarranted however, which is another thing I was thankful for. I am all for grim stuff but only when it's not done just for the sake of being grim.

The book is structured into mostly small chapters, each beginning with the time of day and a small picture of something from the story. Starting each chapter with the time is a great device to foreshadow events in the tale, the reader seeing a night-time period and easily able to picture the darkness and the difficulties that it might bring, before even reading the first word of the new chapter. The time thing also helps give the narrative an anchor in the real world, rather than everything happening in some wishy washy other place.

When The Devil Climbs is a really fantastic read, and I don’t hesitate in giving it 5/5. If you like this kind of horror, it should tick all the boxes for you, it's well written and is something that will stay with you awhile after reading it, especially when you next might eat a sausage or some bacon.

Visit Drake's site for more info at this link.

I was given a free copy of this book to review.

Book Title: When The Devil Climbs
Book Author: Drake Vaughn
Publisher: Kal-Ba Publishing
Released: November 12, 2015