"The Summer Job" Book Review
Written by Adam Cesare
2014, 256 pages, Fiction
Released on January 7th, 2014
Good horror writers can scare you. Great horror writers can get under your skin and make you profoundly uncomfortable. With The Summer Job, his latest release with Samhain Horror, author Adam Cesare joins the ranks of horror masters. The opening scene is wonderfully creepy, but the beauty of it is that Cesare achieves that creepiness without having to rely on supernatural elements, over-the-top situations or tropes. Instead, he gets there via atmosphere, a few strange looks, and the characters' interactions. After that, he stays there, and readers can't help but go along for the ride.
The Summer Job follows Claire, a young, hip girl with a unique personality who's looking for an alternative in life. Her post-college prospects have fizzled and she's floating in a familiar but uncomfortable place. She wants to break away from that and find a more exciting job, better place to live, and even a new life. When a position opens for the summer position at a remote hotel, Claire jumps on it and drives out to be interviewed. She lands the gig, but soon realizes that there might be more going on at the hotel than meets the eye. Her employer is weird and there seems to be a deeply-rooted animosity between the folks at the hotel and town and the group of people that live out in the woods. Before she knows it's happening, Claire is following a boy around, sticking her nose where she shouldn't at the hotel, and caught between the groups. The perfect summer job turns into a nightmare where ritual sacrifice is normal and secret agendas lead to death.
Cesare does many things right in The Summer Job. For starters, his prose is as sharp as ever. In fact, scratch that: it's sharper. He has grown, matured, and the result is the kind of writing that engrosses readers and carries a narrative forward without effort. That, combined with the hotel out in the woods and all the secretiveness that permeates the story, helps create an immersive and wonderfully eerie atmosphere that's hard to stop thinking about. Also, this novel offers a great combination of gore and inscrutability, brutality and creepiness. Last but not least, the humor here is quick and actually funny, the dialogue is some of the best Cesare's ever produced, and the burned priest (yeah, I'm not giving you any more details here) is the coolest/nastiest thing to happen to fiction since Thomas Harris' Mason Verger.
Cesare came out swinging with his first few books and quickly earned accolades. He deserved every one of them. However, what's even more impressive is that he created his own thing: smart, gory, mysterious horror with an obvious cinematographic feel and the kind of heart that only true lovers of the genre can infuse into their work. With The Summer Job, Cesare delivers another outstanding read that deserves to become a movie while simultaneously jumping a few steps up the ladder and solidifying his place among horror fiction's contemporary greats.
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