She: A Horror Novel by David Kummer

Thanks to the lovely website Goodreads, I connected with fellow horror writer, David Kummer, for a book swap. Writers, if you haven’t done this yet, I highly recommend it for not only helping to spread the word about your own book (always a goal) but to see what other indies are doing. I’m so glad I did because She is quite enjoyable. I didn’t learn until after I bought the book that the author is still in his teens, which made me worry about the corrupting influence of my own book: Unmasked, which can get rather (ahem) steamy at times; hopefully young David survived it. But onto the review…

As a lover of horror, I found this book to be a real treat. A mysterious witchy woman, the ubiquitous She, has been terrorizing the small town of Hardy for centuries. It’s bad enough when the old hag stands under your window at night and points a gnarly finger at you, but when she snatches away your baby sister things gets serious. This is what happens to two teens, best friends Brandon and Michael, who along with two other friends, risk their lives to save their loved ones and the town from evil. Quite a premise, and the author handles it well. The story has an IT and Stranger Things vibe to it (young dragons slayers on bikes), but that is a strength in that it has become rather its own recognizable horror trope thanks to Stephen King (or a twisted Spielberg). Kid world is different from the adult world, and Kummer depicts that difference well. I connected with the group of teens with their at times complex emotions regarding each other; the subtle, but slowly developing love story between Michael and Crystal is affecting. The horror ranges from creepy–the hag’s incessant tapping at the window to call forth her next victim–to a shockingly gruesome death in an open grave that reveals just how far the killer will go. The ending gratefully does not go happy (this is horror people), but slides into a grimly quiet denouement, making the story ripe for a sequel.

Some awkward phrasing indicates the author’s lack of experience (or the need for more scrupulous editing), but that will improve as he develops as a writer. What he does have (and it’s priceless) is an innate understanding of traditional story elements: plot development, build, crescendo, resolution. Too many writers ignore these basic lessons, erring on the side of expression and forgetting that what a reader really wants is a good story to keep them up at night. On that front, She delivers the goods. I look forward to reading more from this young author. Keep up with David at DavidKummer.com

Interested in doing an indie horror book swap? Contact me at exlibrisregina@gmail.com

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