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Slaughter / Marcus F. Griffin

Alexandrian Archives / July 2009
Reviewed by: Michele Lee

If E.B. White and Roald Dahl wrote an adult novel together, it might end up looking something like Slaughter by Marcus F. Griffin.

It's 1941 and the rural farms of Indiana and Kentucky are abuzz with the story of Slaughter, the colt favored to win the Kentucky Derby — perhaps even the Triple Crown. But to down-on-his-luck farmer Harold, Slaughter's race is more. To begin with, it'll decide whether he keeps his farm or loses it to the bank. There's a lot more going on at the farm than Slaughter's race though. Two entwined tales of personal spirals into madness are linked into one novel about how the past – and lives around us we often don't even see – haunt us.

The first thing to be noted is that the animals in this book are at times point-of-view characters. While awkward at first, once Slaughter establishes that it's got better things to do than be a lesson on meat eating or a cutesy take off of Babe, the animals become some of the best – and most realistic – characters of the book hands down.

The peculiar feeling one gets while reading this story that the only actual main character is the bad guy is also worth noting. Everyone else seems to be merely a supporting character. There's also a feeling, which Griffin just barely touches on, of how deeply connected all these individual stories are. Parallels are drawn here between the coping skills of acting out on others to control one’s pain as a victim and acting out on oneself as well.

Slaughter is clumsy at moments, primarily before the players are all connected, and doesn't necessarily portray a convincing knowledge of horse racing culture, or even animal behavior. But these things are easy to forgive and forget as readers get swept up in Harold's visions and vicious lashing out and in the mystery of Homer, who is choreographing it all. From the start, Griffin expands the world we know, and then he intersects it with a world of violence and blood, death and murder.

Surprising and whimsically horrific, Slaughter proves Griffin has real potential in horror.

Purchase Slaughter by Marcus F. Griffin.

Posted on Wednesday, March 31, 2010 at 02:13PM by Registered CommenterDark Scribe Magazine in | Comments Off

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