Enjoy this Monday with Mildred!
Thomas cranks up the creepy early and hard, giving the reader a crash course in the infamy of the Finch House outside Lawrence, Kansas, the state where fifty years ago Truman Capote wrote about the Clutter murders. Since we’re predisposed to thinking of Kansas as a quiet place of lurking evil it’s easy to believe in the mother of all haunted houses residing there. He then takes turns introducing his main characters, most of whom are caricatures of massively famous real life horror authors. As a publicity stunt, they will all four stay the night under the scrutiny of the entire internets.
The prose is pretty solid for the most part, though sometimes it gets a bit much. The author constantly goes for the reader’s jugular and dives deeply into descriptions of people and places.
The structure loomed over him, the peak of the triangular roof like a fang sinking itself into the purple clouds of the darkening sky. White paint flaked like dead skin from the house’s weathered wood. At its base, thick weeks sprouted, burrowing into the brick foundation wherever they could.
Something that struck me late in the book is that despite the loads of description, I still found myself getting lost in what exactly was where. When the set up finally ends late into the book and the action finally starts heating up, I kept getting a little lost. I also kept overlaying my aunt’s old house onto the action for some reason and wondered, why would I do that to her house? I liked that aunt. Possibly to help me keep track of where people were in the fictional house?
I knew to keep waiting for something substantial to happen because the plot, unfortunately, is fairly standard. I never found myself surprised by anything. The set-up of the four vastly different authors in a bad place was interesting, but not enough to offset the by-the-numbers story.
I learned the hard way when I was young is that a joke repeated several times in a short span of time is annoying rather than funny. It works the same way with motifs meant to unnerve or even scare, and in Kill Creek there are several repeated motifs, like tall grass moving against the wind as if it has a mind of its own or is being managed by another source. I loved it the first time at the front of the book, but by the time this repeated motif is revealed as a set-up the whole thing fell flat for me. These heavy-handed setups may pay off for some readers but didn’t do it for this one.
It took a while to figure out why I wasn’t believing the otherwise believable characters until I noticed that these horror authors, stuck in a house that continually jumps out and yells boo, never discuss any of these many creepy occurrences. Regular people would be all over it, yelling “Did you SEE THAT?!” at each other as they ran from the house. Horror authors would gather and try to out-do each other. “Did you see THAT?!” “Oh, dude, that’s nothing, did you hear THIS?!!”
Don’t let my negativity get in your way if you enjoy this kind of book. I was more disappointed that it wasn’t better rather than simply disliking it, which I don’t think I would have felt if there weren’t some strong elements in Kill Creek. So again, if you like this kind of book a lot, you won’t regret reading it. I think it would be an excellent movie in the right hands, and I’d be happy to see it on DVD when it came out.