Friday, July 1, 2016

Ugly is only skin deep


By Jeff Strand

Publisher: Sinister Grin Press

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Sometimes covers and descriptions for novels can be slightly deceptive. Blister is a good example of this. From the somewhat disturbing cover it appears to be a horror story. The description on the book tends to confirm this. Yet after reading this alternatively funny and intense book, I think that is too simplistic a term. Blister is a constantly entertaining tale that has large parts of comedy, horror and mystery and maybe even a love story.

Blister centers on a sometimes immature but successful cartoonist named Jason Tray. Due to one of those immature moments, he is persuaded to retreat to his agent's cabin near a small lake town. While at a bar, his new drunk friends take him to peek at the local scary legend, a hideously burned and damaged woman who is kept secluded by her father. Jason is shocked by what he sees and also shamed by his actions. He goes back the next day to apologize and finds , as we should already know, that what we are is not necessary apparent on the surface.

This is what Blister is about but it is also about closely guarded secrets and decisions that haunt us for a long time. We find out early what happened to the burned woman yet that doesn't mean we know everything, as least not yet. The characters of Blister range from well-intended to ghoulishly crazy yet they all seem real enough to involve us in the tale.

Strand's big gift is the ability to make us laugh at even the strangest and most twisted moments. There is a lot of humor in this novel yet when the serious stuff starts, the humor doesn't put us off. It a natural humor that comes from acknowledging the bad as well as the good. There are two authors that seems to have a real gift at portraying wit in a natural dialogue that sees the humor in even the scariest times. One is Joe R. Lansdale and the other is Jeff Strand.

Blister despite its horror designation works best as a mystery and as a story about unlikely friendships. I say this not to put off the horror fans, to which I owe a great part of my readership to, but to encourage those who do not like horror that much to give it a try, Yes I know there are a few of those out there. Hi mom! You guys! Ignore the scary cover and be prepared to laugh, to cry...just read the damn thing okay?

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