As if the idea of a new Tim Curran novel from DarkFuse was not exciting enough, the cover for the upcoming Curran novel, “Nightcrawlers,” is supremely creepy. I really had no idea what the novel was about, I was guessing vampires, but the cover would have been enough to sell me on trying the novel. Of course, after reading some of Curran’s more recent works such as “SOW” and “Worm,” the cover was just a bonus because I was I was already sold.
Small towns are notorious for their privacy issues. Between the people that live in the small towns, there is very little privacy. It seems like everyone knows about everyone else’s secrets. Small towns are also notorious for protecting their secrets from the rest of the world. Clavitt Fields, Wisconsin, is one of these small towns. Clavitt Fields has one hell of a secret that it has protected for over 200 years that is about to explode for the whole world to see.
There is an evil that dwells beneath the village of Clavitt Fields. Many had hoped that they would be destroyed when the town burned down 200 years earlier and the new town began to spring up but they lived on. There were those in Clavitt Fields that knew about them and did their best to keep them under control or at least to keep them from taking one of the towns own. The town got good at turning a blind eye at those who simply vanished in or around the town. When the electric company started digging to lay down a new power cable, the machines began to churn up bodies. Lieutenant Kenney is about to learn the secret of what dwells beneath Clavitt Fields and that secret just may kill him.
I was expecting vampires when I saw the cover of the book and found something much more disturbing. Ghouls are a monster that are not all that common in modern horror fiction, at least in a more traditional form, and that is a shame. Much like werewolves, they just seem to be neglected monsters that do not have the body of work that they deserve. Curran not only brings these monsters to life but makes them very, very scary. The novel starts off by laying a solid foundation to explain what is happening and then Curran ratchets up the action and terror to a frantic level as the ghouls and humans clash. Then, at the height of the battle, Curran blindsides the reader with the truth about the ghouls (and the humans) that made my jaw drop.
Part monster mash-up and part Lovecraftian homage, Curran crafts something unique and terrifying in “Nightcrawlers.” It is not very often that a story surprises me with the turn that it takes but this was the case with this novel. While I enjoyed the book from the beginning, the twist that it takes toward then end when the explanation for the ghouls was revealed pushed the novel’s horror to a whole new level. Curran weaves Lovecraft into the story in a way that seems to be both familiar and shocking at the same time. I opened by describing the cover as “supremely creepy” but the novel goes well beyond the level of creepy. Some books are scary for their psychological impact. “Nightcrawlers” is more like reaching for that doorknob in the dark and finding something that is soft, squishy, and disgusting instead. It hits you on one level at first but you know it is going to be even worse when you turn on the light. The first half of “Nightcrawlers” is that first shock of the unexpected in the dark. The second half is the revelation that makes that shock horrific. That is what makes this book so very good.
I would like to give a special thank you to DarkFuse and NetGalley for this advanced review copy. “Nightcrawlers” will be released by DarkFuse in March and is available for preorder now.