When you read as much as I do, you tend to sift through a lot of trash in search of the rare gems. They don’t come often. I also tend to think that I know quite a bit about the world of horror. Every once in a while, I get humbled. When they both happen with the same book, that’s lightning in a bottle, folks, and I just captured it.You know who else captured it? Ronald Kelly. He even gave it a name. FEAR.
FEAR was everything I love in horror story. It’s a period piece set in the 1940s. I love that era. The setting was in rural TN. Not a place I know much about, but it’s small town and I find that they make the best settings for horror. It’s a coming-of-age story, reminding me very often of Boy’s Life and The Body. What more can I say about Boy’s Life that I haven’t already crowed about? My favorite book – EVER! It’s got monsters, real and make believe, and the main one is full of piss and vinegar, just the way I like ’em. It’s more than 30,000 words. Don’t get me wrong. Some stories simply need to stay around that length, but damn it, let’s not be afraid to stretch our legs a little, okay, a lot. If you’re good, you’re good. When I want a story to keep going and never end, when I want to find out what happened next for Jeb after I’ve reached the last page, when I want to keep feeling what I’m feeling the whole time I’m reading FEAR, that’s not the characteristics of a good story, but a great story. When I read the dialogue of the characters in FEAR, I can hear and picture my grandparents speaking like this in a time that they lived as children.That gives me the warm fuzzies. The descriptions of rural Tennessee settings, I can feel the hot concrete on my bare feet, the cool river refreshing me, the taste of an ice cold Dr. Pepper from a glass bottle on my lips. Kelly pulls me, mind and body, out of my recliner and sets me smack dab in the middle of Pikesville. Now, is there a wart or two in FEAR? Sure. Sometimes, it takes a little bit to believe in all of the happenings here and sometimes it seems like there may have been one or two scenes that could’ve been deleted, but that’s also some of FEAR’s charm. There is some excess. There is a little over the top, but you don’t care because it’s so damn good. Do you know how I know? Because, I’ve been done with FEAR for a few days now, yet I’m still reliving Jeb’s exploits in my head. That’s the mark of a great story – when you carry it with you long after you’ve closed the book.
Ron can flat out write and it breaks my heart that he basically shut it down for a decade or more since Zebra books collapsed. I get it. Life happens for people and Ron is no exception. But, if he was this good when he wrote FEAR, I selfishly think about how many more of his great stories I could be enjoying, if he had never stopped writing. I hope that, someday soon, he’s able to find the time to put pen to paper again. If he does, I hope he’s able to find that the magic inside of him still burns hot, like the time it did when he wrote FEAR. And, I hope he finds that he still loves doing it and all the people in his life will whole-heartedly support that creativity. Because, like I said, I’ve read a lot and rarely do I come across an author with this much talent, and it would be a shame to see it go to waste.
5 Black Diamond-Plated Scales out of 5
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