I’ve previously gone on record to say I’m a huge fan of Chuck Russell’s 1988 remake of The Blob. It was one of my seminal early teenage viewing experiences, so much so that I’m almost frightened to go back and view it now as a crotchety and embittered film and book critic. Thankfully, I don’t have to because some new authors on the horror scene have taken up the mantle left behind by Chuck Russell. Last year it was Exponential by Adam Cesare. This year it’s Glenn Rolfe with Boom Town.
Taking place in a small town in Wisconsin, Boom Town details what happens when a mysterious blue sludge bubbles up from beneath the residents of said town, some thirty years after a couple claimed to have seen a saucer-like craft hovering over a nearby hill. Mayhem ensues when people come into contact with the sludge, which … well, that’s half the fun with this read. What does the sludge do? And how will the residents stave if off? So no more will I say.
The highest compliment I can pay Rolfe is that reading through Boom Town felt like I was reading Stephen King-lite. Rolfe plays with many of the same themes that King tackles, especially in his early to mid-works. There’s the small town setting, the cast of colourful characters, and the supernatural menace that befalls them all. Sure, Rolfe has a long way to go to get near the master, but I appreciated the sensibility of “Kingness” he managed to elicit as I breezed through this short novella. (Which is one way I suspect Rolfe will never be reminiscent of King: he uses about ten words to the hundred King would choose to convey the same sentiment).
Still, Rolfe is growing as an author and has yet to master his craft, so there were a few elements to Boom Town which left me scratching my head. Why, for example, was one character who touched the sludge so differently affected to everyone else? In other places, character decision-making felt like it served the story rather than would be something everyday people would do.
All in all, Boom Town was an enjoyable afternoon read which I would recommend to others who like stories about threats which don’t come in conveniently humanoid packages. It’s quick, punchy and goes places you may not see coming before the final page is swiped or turned.
3.5 to 4 Desires to Ascend for Boom Town.
The preceding was based on an Advanced Reviewer Copy made available by the author in exchange for an honest review. Look for Boom Town from April 7th 2015 everywhere.