Gary McMahon’s latest book takes place six months after the end of Pretty Little Dead Things, and finds Thomas Usher hiding out in one of the UK’s most haunted houses in an attempt to come to terms with the events of the last novel. A mysterious telephone call from a mechanical, clockwork voice jars him out of his downward spiral and puts him on a collision course with a police constable, searching for the truth about her abusive Father, and a discredited psychic with a taste for young boys, influenced by a supernatural entity with links to Usher’s past.
This book is not an easy read. To say that it’s bleak is something of an understatement. From the detailed descriptions of the oppressive urban squalor that the characters inhabit, to the depraved acts of the assembled paedophiles, murderers and low lives, the entire book seems to ooze desperation and depravity from each and every page. The human characters are among the most horrific in any novel that I can remember reading, and that’s before we get into the supernatural entities that are orchestrating the atrocities behind the scenes.
Dead Bad Things will not be for everyone. It’s a dark, disturbing read that seems to relish finding subject matters that most people would shy away from, and then shining a floodlight on it. Scenes are described in great detail, and every word seems to have been carefully selected to elicit an emotional response.
This is a powerful piece of fiction. It’s extremely well written, and the characters are (unfortunately) quite believable. I get the feeling that this book will stay with me for quite some time, worming its way into my psyche like some grotesque engorged flesh eating maggot.
Did I enjoy it? If I’m honest, probably not. This book took me places that I would not go willingly, but that does not make it any less compelling. If you like your horror dark, disturbing, intense and oppressive then this will be right up your street. Just be warned. This is not your usual horror story.
Dead Bad Things is out now from Angry Robot publishing