Little Heaven.Cutter, Nick (author).
Jan. 2017. 496p. Gallery, hardcover, $26(9781501104213); ebook (9781501104220). REVIEW. First published December 15, 2016 (Booklist).
Cutter [The Troop] proves yet again why his is the reigning champ of thoughtful, pulp horror. The year is 1980 and a young girl, is lured from her home by a grotesque monster, but this is more than just a random kidnapping. That monster has a score to settle with the girl’s father and his friends, a score that goes back to 1965 and the isolated, religious commune, Little Heaven, deep in the wilderness of New Mexico. And so, the father, and his two oldest friends, all of whom originally met because they were hired, separately, to kill one and other, reunite to save the girl and settle their debts. Told with an alternating time frame between 1980 and 1965, that perfectly enhances the novel’s intensifying pace, this gruesome novel drips with dread from the very first lines, as we meet our extremely flawed but undeniably sympathetic heroes and watch them get dragged into the hell that is Little Heaven only to find a much worse supernatural monsters lurking in the surrounding woods. With it’s claustrophobically isolated setting, gory details and strong action sequences, this book is sure to win over horror fans, but there is also a powerful, underlying philosophical aspect here which ponders the meaning of family, love, and community. It permeates the novel and anchors it even in it’s most disturbing moments. Imagine that Bentley Little or the late Richard Laymon tried their hand at writing a Cormac McCarthy novel and you understand who will enjoy this story.
Three Words That Describe This Book: Dual [but linked] times frames, gory details, philosophical
Readalikes: Besides the authors mentioned in the review, I would also suggest the work of Brian Keene who shares an ability to write great characters and gory action sequences, while still having a powerful overall message in his horror works.
One thing that Nick Cutter does well in all of his novels is to craft a claustrophobic, isolated setting that in and of itself is chilling [even without the introduction of a supernatural threat]. Another book which does this well is Sparrow Rock by Nate Kenyon.