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Urban Gothic / Brian Keene

Leisure Books / August 2009
Reviewed by: Joan Turner

Readers familiar with Brian Keene’s fiction know his work is raw, gritty and often brilliant, and his latest novel, Urban Gothic, is no exception. In a hard-core horror fright fest, Keene drops readers into the depths of one of the darkest and most tortuous nightmares imaginable.

The story begins simply enough. Three young couples are on their way home from a rap concert in Philadelphia when their car breaks down in a bad neighborhood in the inner city. They are approached by a group of black youths whom they stereotypically mistake for criminals. Unnerved by their presence, one of the young men yells a racist slur. Fearing reprisal, the six friends abandon the car and take refuge in an old decrepit and seemingly abandoned house nearby.

But the house is far from abandoned. The place has a long and well-deserved reputation as the neighborhood’s haunted house for those who enter it are never seen again. But something far more sinister than ghosts occupies this dwelling. The house is a death trap inhabited by bloodthirsty cannibalistic humanoids, and the six young friends must struggle for their lives against inconceivable odds.

The visceral mayhem and violence of Urban Gothic is shocking, and the atmosphere and mood of the old dark house and the despair of the victims, soon separated from one another and lost as they flee the killers, adds to the horror.

The cinematic possibilities of this story are readily apparent, but this story is far from the mindless slasher plots of too many B grade films. Keene offers powerful social commentary by breaking stereotypical expectations and injecting the rationale that bad situations can bring out the best in people.

Winner of two Bram Stoker Awards, Brian Keene burst onto the horror scene with his 2003 debut novel The Rising, and his momentum continues to grow with this, his most powerful novel to date. Urban Gothic is a tour de force in shock horror. Read it if you dare.

Purchase Urban Gothic by Brian Keene.

Posted on Saturday, August 1, 2009 at 01:14PM by Registered CommenterDark Scribe Magazine in | Comments Off

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