Thirty Seven, Peter Stenson, Dzanc Books, 2018, 269 pp
Another debut novel from an indie press, sent to me as the February, 2019 Nervous Breakdown Book Club selection. It is a horror novel with an unique twist. Actually I don't know for sure if it is a unique twist because I have read very little in the horror genre. I listened to the interview with Peter Stenson on the Otherppl podcast and decided to try the book, with trepidation.
Mason Hues, adopted and abused by his adoptive father, ran away from that home and ended up in a cult called The Survivors. In the telling of his story he is an unreliable narrator due to being in denial about a terrible thing he did when he was 15.
While there is plenty of blood with horrible scenes, the book is also about how cults operate and how their leaders are messed up individuals trying to work out their own issues through the cult they created and through the power that gives them over others.
Though it is extremely well written, plot-wise and character-wise with near perfect language and tone, I don't recommend it for anyone but those who like horror or have a strong drive to understand the phenomenon of cults.
This may turn out to be my gateway to the genre. Perhaps I have grown up enough to be a bit more free of the fairy tales I was raised on about life and love and progress and achievement. Evil is alive and well in the world and it takes a lot of courage to confront that, to live a decent life in the face of it, to be able to find the balance between good and evil. Or to deal with the truth that the concept of good vs evil is just another crappy duality humans have devised to make sense of how random life can be.