Top critical review
Unbelievable even for horror fiction
Reviewed in the United States on August 9, 2013
This one easily reminded me of one of the many cheesy fright flicks from the eighties about mutant inbred cannibals frightfully pursuing their victims with relentless abandon.
Surprisingly, this one isn't the gore-fest Afraid or Trapped was. That's not to say there weren't any squimish moments in the book, but clearly the shock factor in this one was in the appearance of the freaks themselves. I often say that people can't take a book like this serious - and you can't. But even still, the plight of these poor S.O.B's were just too hard to believe. Some of the birth defects described in this story would be next to impossible for functional human beings to survive with. I mean, we're talking people with gaping holes and hands coming out of their faces - things that would make my all-time favorite serial killer, Jason Voorhees, look like a Baldwin.
Also unbelievable was the fact that this deformed bunch appeared to be so fertile. Not to give away the story, but in addition to the main reason they were kidnapping people - which I won't reveal so as not to spoil this relatively shallow plot - almost all of them were preoccupied with procreation on the side when the very severity of their birth defects would at the very least render a great many of them sterile. Yet, there is a room in the inn where the fruits of their labors are very much evident.
Character wise, I wasn't terribly rooting for any of them. And that seems to be the trend with Kilborn/Konrath's writing in general - for some reason, I find myself not caring for any of the good guys in his books. I'm always drawn to the psychopaths, but never the ones that are going to save the day. Maybe I'm just crazy myself - whatever, I like what I like. But in particular it always seems like Kilborn/Konrath's female protagonists always have to over compensate for being women somehow by being super tough or strong-willed. Hey, I'm all for girl-power being one myself, but sometimes its okay to let a man step in and sweep us off our feet - or at the very least handle things if it is more conducive to the situation to let him do so.
This book was no exception. All but maybe one woman in this story - Maria - were trying to project this fearless image that left me reminiscent of that detestable Jack Daniels from Konrath's most popular thriller mystery series. I complained of her hating being a woman because she had this super-hero complex where nobody - especially a man - was going to show her up. In particular, the Pillsbury women - starting with grandma Florence, then her daughter Letti, on down to Letti's daughter, Kelly - all seemed to think that crying was a weakness. Of course, since Kelly was still a child, she gave in to frightened tears when the going got especially tough, but her mother and grandmother had her feeling ashamed to feel fear itself and I thought that was morbid. You're lost and scared with strange disfigured people trying to rape and bleed you - of course you're entitled to be afraid! And that's no matter how old you are - man, woman, or child.
One last thing I found disappointing was the survival count at the end. Of course I won't reveal who bites the dust, but I still can't help but feel too many people walked away from this one. These people were in the middle of nowhere and in addition to being held against their will by these sickos, they're also being stalked by a mountain lion. I won't say how many people die, but if and when you decide to read this, you'll see dilemma. I'm not a glass half empty person and like a happy ending as much as the next, but the level of danger confronting these people promised a higher fatality rate and because it didn't deliver, I chalk it up to one more thing that made this already outlandish story unbelievable.
I gave it three-stars anyway just because it gave me nightmares and a lot of horror books don't do that for me. So I thought that was cool because I'm weird like that.