Hag review

Hag - John Goodrich
Dealing with cancer must be horrendous enough, but in John Goodrich's world, that's just the precursor for what befalls his protagonist, David, when he moves to Boston to be closer to the only form of treatment that may just save his life. You see, David has the misfortune of choosing to rent an apartment in a building haunted by a nasty ghost that seems intent on causing him pain, driving him insane, and maybe even claiming his life ...

To be fair, I likely wouldn't have read this one based on the above-synopsis alone, had it not come as part of Brian Keene's latest Maelstrom Set as released by Thunderstorm Books. So, I figured, if I own a limited edition hardcover that's signed by the author, the intro contributor, Laird Barron, and the cover's illustrator, M Wayne Miller, I best read the thing at some point.

The story itself is very straight forward and features only a handful of characters. Goodrich gives these characters a depth rarely seen in the horror genre, and it was this aspect I appreciated most about Hag. David, Sam and Valya all seemed like real people - especially in the way they spoke to one another. Which is to say, the dialogue is excellent and Goodrich clearly has a great ear for the nuances of how people speak.

Unfortunately, the supernatural element is very bog standard in Hag, with little new or exciting to recommend regarding it. I was never once scared by the titular hag, but I was affected by David's struggles with his cancer and the chemotherapy he has to suffer through, at least initially. After a while, though, it became quite repetitive reading about David's treatment and reaction routine, while the ghost almost seemed to be relegated to the background. Perhaps this was Goodrich's intent, but when I pick up a novel entitled Hag I don't really want to be bashed about the head with Pancreatic Cancer: Its Treatments and Side-Effects instead.

While I'm here, I should mention I had a great deal of trouble swallowing David's rationale for remaining in the apartment once he knew it was haunted. Eddie Murphy summed it up best in his stand-up comedy release from the mid-80s, Delirious. "It's very simple. There's a ghost in the house, get the fuck out ..." The resolution is also far too convenient given the long and drawn out build up to the inevitable confrontation.

In the end, Hag marks a promising debut at some levels, and a disappointment at others. I'd be willing to give Goodrich another shot, though, as his writing here shows some promise.

2.5 Dug-In Heels for Hag.
Source: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1141386790?book_show_action=false