Leisure Books / September 2009
Reviewed by: I.E. Lester
The first thing you'll likely think when you start reading Bryan Smith’s Depraved is: "Hey, haven't I seen something like this before?" The answer is, yes, you have.
The action takes place in a remote American town called Hopkins Bend. The inhabitants of the town are degenerate almost beyond belief, and unfortunate visitors to Hopkins Bend find themselves in the midst of one of the most twisted bunch of inbreds and mutants who enjoy whiling away their time raping, torturing, killing and eating anyone who comes near them.
Sound familiar yet?
A few chapters in will call to mind any number of movies or books with similar plots: The Hills Have Eyes, Wrong Turn, Deliverance, and Jack Ketchum’s Off Season come immediately to mind. Even Friday the 13th and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre share similar plot elements.
But for the fact its plot hinges on a much-overused premise, there is a great deal to like about Depraved. For one thing, Smith has taken his mutant townsfolk to new depths of depravity. This is not an author who holds back. There is no sparing of the claret here, and the horror is not in the least bit sanitized. It's pretty sick stuff and contains a good amount of graphic violence — enough to satisfy the most hardened horror fan. Depraved is a downright brutal book, with its very last scene turning your stomach as much as its first.
Yet Smith somehow manages to avoid what could have been all too easy with this level of violence; namely, desensitization. Despite the nearly constant onslaught of viscera, the reader doesn’t become numb to the excesses of the book.
As for the characters themselves, Smith doesn't waste much time here on back story. His character-building is very concise, with just enough about each person revealed before being left to fill in the blanks yourself. Smith is on a mission in Depraved: He just wants to get to the mind-numbing violence without having to wade through a dozen pages about the next victim's grandmother. He also makes his good guys have to get down and dirty with the townsfolk, becoming nearly as twisted as them in their efforts to escape. They are not going to truly recover from this – ever.
Neither may the reader.
Depraved is not lightweight horror – and definitely not for the teen angst Twilight crowd. This is horror for the hardcore adult horror fan, with full-on gore, suspense, and sex – some of which will leave the reader squirming in their seat. If you can forgive him his re-use of a clichéd plot, Bryan Smith will not let you down.
Purchase Depraved by Bryan Smith.