Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Mercenaries vs religious fanatics and monster

Little Heaven

By Nick Cutter

Publisher: Gallery Books

Pub. Date: January 10, 2017

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

It's hard to believe after two stunning novels of horror from Nick Cutter in the last few years but Little Heaven is a major disappointment. Cutter has carved himself a splendid little niche of visceral thrills with The Troop and The DeepLittle Heaven pales next to them. It's a little hard to figure out why since it does have the require amount of scares and body horror that the author is known for. Let's see if we can.

The first thing that stands out in Cutter's first two books is that the plot is held together by brilliantly vicious ideas of horror. Although formed adequately to catch the reader's empathy, the characters are secondary to that horror. In Little Heaven we have another horror but it is secondary to the characters. Normally this would be good but the characters of the novel doesn't stand apart enough to make us care. The action of the novel goes back and forth over two decades; from the 60s to the 80s. The constant throughout this see-sawing are three mercenaries who gives us very little to like about them. And these are our "heroes". The novel describes how they meet through a contract hit and how their paths continues to cross. One of them, Minerva, plans to kill another, a British black man named Ebeneezer, to fulfill a wish for revenge. For reasons never sufficiently explained, Minerva , Ebeneezer and a third man named Michah maintain an uneasy bond through the years. This hard to believe bond takes them to a religious commune and eventually a confrontation with a misshapen creature in the wilderness.

The main human villain does not fare well either. The commune of Amos and his followers is a thinly disguised Jonestown but Amos shows none of the charisma required to bring something like that together. He looks and acts like a fool leaving the reader to wonder why anyone would follow him. Interestingly, the most believable thing in the novel is the strange creature in the forest and that is because we are given a creepy and scary glance at his development in the prologue. The image that Cutter sets forward never leaves us and give us the kind of promise that he delivered in his first books. Unfortunately that is not to be in this book.

It seems that the author is blending a few styles of writing here besides his own. There is some Cormac McCarthy in the type of protagonists he creates and a lot of Stephen King in Amos and the circumstances his commune finds it in. Yet it ever really gel together. We end up with a well written horror tale that should of worked but doesn't. I am only left with recommending either The Troop or The Deep to the reader or telling them to wait for Cutter's next book.

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