topsidersTopsiders
Scott Tyson
Legume Man Books (December 6, 2013)
ISBN 978-0987466570
$10.95 PB; $2.99 Kindle
214 pp.

Reviewed by Matthew Scott Baker

When it comes to horror in general, there are many avenues through which terror can be unleashed.  One of my favorites is via old, abandoned houses.  Who has not lived in an area with at least one ramshackle building for which stories and legends abound?  With TOPSIDERS, author Scott Tyson gives readers yet one more reason not to venture into these dark, foreboding structures.  But things are never as simple as they sound…and this book will thrust you deep into a nightmare of epic proportions.

If you are not familiar with TOPSIDERS, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of LegumeMan Books:

An abandoned house by the edge of the river. Uninhabited for decades. A secret as old as time itself. A truth hidden from the topsiders. But that’s about to change. When all the adults suddenly disappear, Mathew convinces his older brother that something is very wrong. Their search leads them to a place they never knew existed. A place that will have them question everything they knew about life. Soon, the truth.

This is one of those books that is perfect for a movie or a miniseries.  As the events unfolded throughout the pages, I kept visualizing each scene in my mind.  These visions came complete with an eerie soundtrack and even creepy camera angles.  This is definitely a testament to the talent and imagination of the author.

TOPSIDERS is written well with flowing sentences and minimalistic descriptions.  Instead of calling out every leaf on every tree or using paragraph after paragraph to describe a single scene, Tyson lets the reader’s mind do the world-creating.  I particularly enjoy this style of writing, as my own mind can conjure up images more vivid than even the most adjective-infused prose.

The characters within the story are complex and emotional, just like people in real life.  The reader laughs with them during goofy moments, and then cringes with them when embarrassing situations arise.  This camaraderie the reader feels with the characters intensifies the tension when terrible things start happening.  As a result, the immersion into the story is deeper and more satisfying.

The horror in the story is top notch, and I found myself nervous while reading certain sections.  Tyson builds tension with ease but never lets up once the plot starts moving.  And when all hell breaks loose, grab something to hold onto; the thrill ride of an ending will leave you breathless.

If I were forced to find a flaw with TOPSIDERS, I might mention that the strained relationship between Bill and Judy is a bit too strained to be realistic.  With as acidic as Judy is towards him, I don’t see Bill staying, even if he is a beaten-down man with no backbone.  This is the only point that stood out to me, however it is definitely needed for the story, so I cannot devalue its merit too much.

Regardless, TOPSIDERS is an excellent read and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good scare.  Tyson is definitely a force to be reckoned with when it comes to horror, and I can’t wait to see what he does next.  The book is available now in a variety of formats; pick it up for sure.

About Matthew Scott Baker

Matthew Scott Baker is a horror writer from Greenland, AR. His fiction has appeared in Aphelion: The Webzine of Science Fiction and Fantasy, as well as a couple of anthology collections, including FIFTY SHADES OF DECAY, a zombie anthology published in 2013 by Angelic Knight Press. In addition to writing fiction, Matthew runs Shattered Ravings, a blog devoted to reviewing movies and books in the horror, science-fiction, and fantasy genres.

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