Friday, July 24, 2009

Book Review: Under by Bradd Quinn

Growing up in the country, I’m no stranger to the nighttime sounds of wildlife crunching and skittering through the undergrowth. There is something deeply unsettling about something moving around in the dark that you can’t see…but you feel like it is watching you. Though I now live in the city, there are still those strange nocturnal noises, whether they come from the bushes or the dumpsters, that make my heart skip a beat. Who knows what could be lurking in the inky black shadows, watching you? I certainly don’t want to stick around to find out! Author Bradd Quinn’s debut novel, Under, explores the these very fears of what lurks in the darkness just out of your eyesight…something that very well may be watching YOU!

When the rural town of Gaston is the location of a gruesome massacre, the authorities are quick to blame the viciousness of the attacks on a pack of wild dogs or coyotes. The numerous victims were attacked in their homes and appeared to have been partially devoured, causing skeptics to point out that wild animals generally don’t enter homes to attack, especially multiple homes. Their concerns are ignored by the authorities, who insist the massacre was the work of wild animals.

Weeks later, in the nearby town of Jennisville, Jacob Drake has begun finding an abnormally large amount of dead birds, rodents and other small animals in his yard. He then discovers a large hole that leads underneath his deck, which the family’s black lab Samantha can’t leave well enough alone. Pretty soon, pets in the neighborhood are missing and neighbors find one of their dogs ripped apart, like it had been eaten.

Jacob begins to see similarities between the events leading up to the tragedy in Gaston and the warning signs popping up in his neighborhood. He begins to think that whatever killed the animals and pets is living under his deck and is too close to his family for comfort. In an effort to protect his wife Christine and five-year-old daughter Genna, Jacob decides to peer into the darkness and finds something so terrifying, so unknown, that no one else will believe that it’s real. It’s up to Jacob and his friend and next-door neighbor Rod to try and convince the town that something evil is lurking…before it’s too late for everyone.

Under is a fast-paced novel that had me so engrossed I couldn’t put it down! I usually do my reading at night, but with Under I kept stealing away to read a few more chapters whenever I could! Author Bradd Quinn really did an excellent job at getting me invested in all the characters. I really enjoyed the character of Jacob Drake, especially the smartass humor he used throughout the book. It really made Jacob likable and made me give a damn about him and his family.

I am just astounded that this is Quinn’s debut novel. The fast pace, great characterizations, perfectly-timed “reveal” moments and a suspenseful finale all make Quinn appear like a seasoned writer. While there are typos throughout the novel, you have to remember it is self-published and Quinn even included a cute disclaimer telling the reader to “Think of them as easter eggs”, so they are forgivable. Plus, it’s easy to skim over typos when you are so engrossed in the story!

The creatures (yes, there are more than one) that Quinn has dreamed up are nightmarish creations that screech and howl in an unearthly manner and whose appearance is shocking. I’ve never seen or read about these creatures in any horror film or book, so kudos again to Quinn for picking something refreshing rather than the standard vampire/werewolf/zombie-like creatures we are so used to seeing in the horror genre. From the way they move to the way they communicate to just how they look unsettled me and yet left me craving more. Quinn gives us just enough towards the beginning of the novel to keep us reading and keeps giving us more and more tidbits on the nature of the crafty creatures until the slam-bam finale. And what a finale it is! I thought the first half of the book was tense, but the last half really puts you through the wringer! You’ll find it nearly impossible to put Under down once you’re reading the nail-bitingly suspenseful conclusion!

For those that have wondered just what is hiding under the dark, dank spaces beneath their homes or what the strange nocturnal scratching noises coming from their basements are, Under, the debut novel from Bradd Quinn, is definitely for you!

Buy it on Amazon!

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