I've heard the name Brett McBean throughout various horror channels for some time. His novels all sounded interesting to me, and as a fellow Aussie, I was determined to give him a shot.
The short story is I'm very glad I did.
The slightly longer story goes like this.
McBean quickly proved himself to be a talented wordsmith in his latest novel, The Invasion. Not surprisingly given the title, this is the story of a home invasion that takes place in suburban Australia, with the tired revelers at a small Christmas party set upon by a group of predators whose agenda is at first unknown. It's the kind of tale which usually lends itself to a 100 minute feature film. but McBean here successfully adapts this sub-genre of film to book, and - especially for the first half - ratchets up the tension in an incredible way.
McBean's character work - at least among the protagonists - is especially strong. From the home's owner, a successful author with major marriage issues, to her gay younger brother and his long-term partner, McBean manages to breathe life into these characters, so that by the time horrible things befall them, the reader is caught and invested in their fortunes. He also goes to great lengths to make the house in which the events take place a character all of its own. This was both a strength and a weakness for mine, as early passages detailing each room of the house fit in well, but as the narrative progressed, there were a few too many occasions where everything ground to a halt for those same passages to take place.
A further slight disappointment for me was the pacing suffering a notable lag in the third-quarter of the book. Thankfully, however, McBean course corrects perfectly with an ending that bumped my score up a half-star.
Finally, the less said about the home invaders, the better, as a strength of the novel is gradually learning why they are doing what they are doing. And really, that's where The Invasion shines. Because who, after all, has not started at a bump in the night? Or wondered whether that was the squeak of the side door opening? Who hasn't asked themselves what they would do if someone came into their home uninvited in the dead of night?
Now if you'll excuse me, I need to hunt down some more novels from McBean.
3.5 (Rounded up to 4) Diminished Smart Phone Batteries for The Invasion.