"Them" Book Review
Written by Jennifer Turner
Published by HellBound Books
Written by James Watts
2018, 292 pages, Fiction
Released on March 9th, 2018
I have to say my favorite trope in horror is of the small-town-fights-evil variety. I often complain about throwaway characters that are introduced and killed off without a hint of backstory. Small town horror introduces you to these characters, gives them a background and makes the reader actually invested in the story. Them is this very kind of tale.
The plot centers on Ray, who returns home after the sudden death of his mother. He begins to reacquaint himself with the town and his past unaware of an evil that’s brewing underneath. I love how the author, James Watts, actually takes the time to let readers get a feel for the town before jumping into the horror. It’s very reminiscent of Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot or an early John Saul novel.
Character development is Watts’ strong suit. Case in point, let’s look at my favorite character, Maria. She is strictly a secondary character, in fact she spends most of the book in a drugged-out comatose state. Any other author would dispatch her to keep the body count up, but not in this novel. When she does come out of the coma, she evolves from weakling to badass without it coming off as forced. There’s an especially amazing scene when, still weak from the drugs, she’s able to stave off an attempt on her life. Her confrontation with her would-be killer is deep and kind of heart wrenching.
As much as I love the book, I have a couple of complaints. To start, the main characters are named Ray and Roy, which can get confusing. I often had to reread lines to reestablish who is who. The book also contains my least favorite thing in the world: animal deaths. If reading about cats and dogs dying upsets you, I’d recommend you steer clear of this novel.
The ending is very fast paced and action packed. Getting the chance to know the character makes them more real and I actually was teary eyed for a couple of the death scenes. More horror authors need to work on this.
I am a little disappointed in the ending and not just because I wanted it to last longer. Them ends very abruptly and it’s like a literary whiplash. The author hints at the return of the main character and if so, I will be the first in line to read his next book.