Monday, July 1, 2013

Obsession, Horror and Unearthly Lust, Indeed!

Reviewed by James L. Thane
Five out of five stars

In Greek Mythology, Sirens were irresistibly beautiful women who lived on an island with a rocky coast and who lured unsuspecting sailors to their deaths by singing and calling out to them with their enchanting voices. Something of the same sort of thing occurs in Kurt Reichenbaugh’s new book, Sirens.

Reichenbaugh has cleverly updated the legend to the Florida Gulf Coast in the late 1970s and has woven into the tale a couple of psychopathic redneck wrestlers, a dog-like beast with a killer tail; some sexy, nubile and deadly cheerleaders; rotting corpses that refuse to die, creatures from outer space, and four relatively clueless teenage boys. And, of course, there’s Suzie, the devastatingly beautiful and alluring Siren whose actions propel the story forward. The cover blurb advertises Sirens as “A novel of obsession, horror and unearthly lust!” It’s certainly all of that and more.

The story opens when three bored teenaged friends, Kevin, Brad and Nick, are joined by a loser named Benny. None of the three really likes Benny, but he’s older and bigger and a hard man to refuse. So when Benny insists that they get some beer and go to a party he’s heard about, Kevin, Brad and Nick reluctantly go along.

The four wind up out in the middle of nowhere in front of a dilapidated house guarded by a snarling animal that would send any sensible boys scrambling back into their car and screaming the hell out of there. But, of course, if they did that, there’d be no story.

It seems pretty clear that there’s no party going on here, at least not in the conventional sense. But then a stunning woman steps out onto the porch and invites the boys in. In the living room are two massive, ugly specimens who seem to pay little attention to the boys. The woman, Suzie, sizes them up and agrees to party with them. Now, even Kevin, Brad and Nick are beginning to get enthused about the evening. Suzie leads them out and through the woods to a strange lake and just as things are getting interesting, the two rednecks and their four-legged “pet” materialize behind the eager boys.

With that, the book is off and running and it’s a wild ride to say the least. In less capable hands, this story could be formulaic and clich├ęd, but Reichenbaugh delivers the goods page after page, mixing horror, sci-fi, and coming of age themes into a great story. If “obsession, horror and unearthly lust” are the kinds of things that get your motor running, look no further. For that matter, the great pulp-inspired cover is worth the price of admission all by itself.

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