by Nick Cutter
It was easily discernible right from the start that I will be out of my element. Nick Cutter has a way with words that only masters of horrors can craft. I supposed if I were a Stephen King reader, I would find the same kind of writing chops that makes him the “king” of this genre. Nick’s brand of writing, however, is a new thing for me. It was disarming and in turns, astounding. The violence and the gore were even more viscerally shocking – especially for a newbie such as I.
Little Heaven is not an easy read – which I supposed, is a good indication of a horror novel. And because it tells the story in two timelines, the book was of considerable heft. But Little Heaven pulled me in right away; ripe with an ominous atmosphere and messed up characters that you wouldn’t want to encounter in a dark alley, it’s a whole another experience altogether. Right off the bat, you’re introduced to monsters of different breeds: the supernatural kind and the human kind. In 1965, three guns-for-hire mercenaries fought to death then somehow found themselves forming a truce of sorts after the dust settled. I love reading unlikely alliances between characters that can barely trust each other’s own shadows. It makes for an even more suspenseful read and admittedly, a favorite trope of mine.
This is where the story takes off. It was during their tenure as a threesome trouble that they were hired to investigate a suspected kidnapping of a client’s nephew. They’ll discover a cult whose membership consisted of the exploited and the enslaved but fanatics all the same. It was in here that they’d find the horrors of Little Heaven. Practically everyone in this commune is the stuff of nightmares – children and adults alike. Coupled that with a monster that lurks in the woods and in the commune itself, these band of mercenaries would find Little Heaven was actually Little Hell on Earth.
Then the timeline moves into the future (1980) where the three would once again find themselves in Black Mountain Wilderness after Shug found her daughter missing from her bed in the middle of the night. Older, beaten by time, and much changed from what they once were, the three knew that there remains an outstanding debt to be paid. This time, the horrors were more or less the kind of things that haunt them in their waking and sleeping hours.
I don’t have much to say about Nick Cutter’s writing other than it’s brilliant. If horror is your thing, Mr. Cutter gives Stephen King a run for his money. His characters were haunted by their miserable and troubled pasts which he’d seamlessly interwoven into his narrative. He was able to reach the emphatic reader. He showed me that even though these characters are bad to the bone, there are some good about them that I will still love. And most of the time, I found myself doing that very thing. I rooted for these characters because I know there is a much more evil monster lurking within the pages of the book.
Little Heaven will scare you and at times, will make your stomach churn. Nick Cutter is a brand new author to me, but I have a feeling I’ll be looking for his books more now that I’ve discovered him. If you’re a fan of supernatural horrors, this book is a must read. An old school horror-fest, indeed!