Author: Vincent Kale
Price: $9.99 + shipping (Paperback) $2.99 Kindle
Page count: 391pp
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin
The novel Crawl starts with suburbanites and City Dwellers Mark and Ellen Carson moving with 2.4 children to the quaint town of Oakdale, pop. 1237. The Carsons move into Fairweather Manor, a sprawling yet dilapidated mansion that has a dark history spanning back decades. As Mark Carson tries to renovate the property and bring his family into small town America, something lurking in the house is rejecting his attempts at improvement, changing his work, rebelling against the new invaders.
Crawl is written from multiple Points of View, so we get into the heads of most of our characters. Although sometimes the voices can be a bit tricky to differentiate from, there is one really strong voice we encounter (hindered a little by an excess of adjectives when it comes to the character Mother); the eponymous Crawl, the creature that lurks within the walls of Fairview Manor.
This is distinctly an ‘old school’ haunted house horror, featuring the proverbial ‘monster in the closet’ or in the case of Crawl, the crawlspace between the walls of the property, but with a fantastic twist. I am not into Spoilers, so I have no intention of revealing the twist here.
There is a touch of both Richard Laymon and Wes Craven in this novel that keeps it routed in its traditional horror setting and lots of arachnid analogies woven throughout the piece. Having read some short pieces by Kale, there is also some typical Kale humour, which is laugh out loud funny and wonderfully sardonic at times. If I have one complaint about Crawl it’s that Mr Kale didn’t give us enough of his recognisable humour. And that’s a real shame in an otherwise enigmatic novel. Saying that, as the big and shocking reveal happens I can see why Kale held back on the humour. I was actually quite delighted at one point to find myself squirming at a passage I read. This happens so very rarely.
The reveal or punchline when it does come is a cracker and the chance of being a fly on the wall into the Carson’s household exposes much more darkness underneath the civilised veneer of Oakdale.
Crawl is not an easy read. If you want an easy read, and I am not saying a quality-less easy read, there are other great horror novels out there to pick. If you want something that goes deeper into the nightmare, then Crawl is the book for you. This is an unrelentingly dark novel that left me disturbed in a positive way but so much better for having read it.
If you want to know more about Vincent’s latest projects or read short horror fiction take a look at his website and blog, which can be found at Crawlspace. If anyone would like an autographed paperback copy, they can email Vincent directly at email@example.com