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A grotesque serial killer with a penchant for wood carving
and a dark entity team up for eerie house haunting and rabid bloodletting while
the local sheriff works to keep his town and his daughter safe and the whole story
under wraps, in Mark Kidwell’s debut novel, BUMP.
This book, now available at Amazon.com, is a novelization of
Kidwell’s limited series comic of the same title published in 2007 by FANGORIA
Comics. Kidwell is also a writer and artist for the zombie war comic ’68. The
story is part haunted house, part supernatural horror and part serial killer
thriller. Edgar Dill lives on the outskirts of town with his mother and his
growing collection of disturbing, life-sized wooden mannequins with some very
human features. After the sheriff’s daughter goes missing, he pays a visit to
the Dills where all hell breaks loose. The sheriff saves his daughter,
preventing her from being the 11th victim of the discovered serial killer.
Instead of handling the case as normal police business, the sheriff and
deputies seal the house, conceal all the evidence and attempt to live out the
rest of their lives pretending none of it ever happened. That plan fails when
the darkness in the house gathers its strength for a comeback.
The action scenes in BUMP are fast and cinematic, in kind
with Kidwell’s previous work in a graphic format. Edgar Dill’s wood carved
creations are ingenious, scary and disgusting and by themselves make the book
worthy of a read. The town setting, the characters, the woods and even the
killer (inspired by real life Plainfield Ghoul, Ed Gein) are all classic horror
standbys from the past 30 years and lend a wistfulness to the story any horror
fan should enjoy. Without overdoing the analysis, BUMP also makes a statement
about the “after” for female victims of violent crimes. Dill’s mannequins
remain his just as Bundy or Gacy’s victims remain forever remain theirs: death
serves as no relief.
With lots of sex and violence, some creative monsters and
downright good story, BUMP is sure to please, but literature it’s not. The
writing can be overly concerned with details that sometimes distract from the
story; the female characters are often making silly porno puns at intimate
moments—also distracting. The characters are all familiar clichés, yet this
seems to work for the story giving it a comfortable nostalgic horror feel. The
omniscient narration also includes the perspective of the unnamable evil that
haunts the Dill Farm, which just doesn’t work. There are still certain things
that remain scary because they are unexplained: the feelings and motivation of
a demonic force is one such thing. A professional edit would easily solve these
issues for the self-published book.
BUMP is a sharp horror story that isn’t afraid of its own
gruesome content. It’s appropriately brutal, familiar with some points of
frightening creativity. Though the writing is sometimes unrefined it’s not
unskilled. It’s a great story to fill your dark and stormy nights that will
cause you to look askance at trembling branches and listen harder for the bump
in the night.
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