Mass Market Paperback, $6.99 (U.S.)/$9.99 (CAN)
Review by Nickolas Cook
In his newest novel, They Hunger, Scott Nicholson takes on the vampire genre in his own inimitable style and turns it on its head. In this fast paced, action packed horror story, Nicholson presents a mixed cast of professional athletes on a corporate sponsored trek through the deep forest of the Appalachian Mountains and an insane religious abortion clinic bomber on the run from a duo of F.B.I. agents. This streamlined narrative wastes no time jumping into the action and the monsters, as Nicholson leaves behind the usual Gothic tropes and the slow, atmospheric buildup to his usual supernatural horrors.
But there are a few other points that differ from Nicholson’s other works, and they manage to run deeper than mere story for entertainment’s sake.
First off, Nicholson doesn’t offer us a romantic view of vampires in They Hunger; instead, these vampires are animalistic, and possibly prehistoric throwbacks from the depths of the earth, giving us a refreshingly unique twist on the overworked blood-sucking genre. This probably won’t sit well with the angst ridden Rice cult, but for those of us who enjoy something new, it’s a welcome breath of fresh air.
Added to that twist, Nicholson also gives us a cast of wounded misfits that strive to break the horror archetypes. And they do – on many levels.Â So much so that the reader is guaranteed to find them almost impossible to plumb without first asking some moral and ethical questions of himself. There are no completely good or bad guys to root for; even the vampires may not be all they seem at first glance. For instance, does the bomber actual have the sanction of God?Â Is it okay to kill in the name of the law? That’s the power of a seasoned and versatile writer.
Another surprising aspect of They Hunger comes to light as we discover Nicholson’s ability to interweave a naturalist writer’s view in between the action and horror. Less than halfway through the book, it becomes clear that Nicholson beholds his home turf with the passion of someone who knows it with the intimacy of a lover. He has the artist’s ability to make us feel the wet, the sun, the muddy loam, and the green of the wood. But, more importantly, as a horror author, Scott Nicholson also knows how to make us fear the shadows in the forest.
This may be the best book Nicholson has ever written. It’s exciting to see such a talented author push himself beyond the tropes and onto a whole different level of competency. I’m personally stoked to see what he offers us next from his fertile imagination.