The Wicked by James Newman is a great throwback to the old horror novels of the 80s era. This is the first novel of Newman’s that I have read and I’m damned sure that it won’t be the last.
Dave and Kate Little, along with their young daughter, Becca, decide to move to a small town in North Carolina called Morgansville. They left New York in order to escape the painful memories of some very unfortunate events that occurred there, namely, Kate having been raped one night when her husband David was unavailable to go and pick her up, so she walked home. Shortly after this tragic incident, Kate became pregnant. This caused a lot of stress and conflict within the marriage and David suspected that the baby was not his, but that it was a bastard child created from the rapist’s seed. As it turned out, relocating from the big apple to a small town, may not have been the wisest of decisions.
Sometimes it may be better to face your demons head-on rather than try to run away from them, for you may find an entire new demon waiting at the place you ran to.
It didn’t take long for shit to hit the fan once the family moved to Morgansville. Some fucked up teen burns down a school for children in the name of some entity he worships. This sets off the story and introduces us to the evil that is born, but likely has been there waiting dormant for ages. This evil demon or ancient entity is known as Moloch.
Newman does an exceptional job in describing this entity and what it looks like – although the illustration of it on the front cover does help and gives a strong starting reference for what this vile being looks like.
Moloch starts taking control of some of the towns folk and creates havok. A lot of blood, violence and sexual perversion ensues, with Moloch having the ultimate goal of eating all of the children’s souls. Morgansville becomes the sort of place where nowhere is safe to be, and no one can be trusted, as Moloch starts possessing and controlling some of the weak-minded townspeople.
This book did give me the feeling of reading a screenplay for a good old fashioned 80s horror flick based on a classic small town setting. The author you can tell is a huge fan of 80s horror books and films and his Afterword confirms this and was very enjoyable to read.
One of the things that really stood out and I found different from other stories I’ve read in the same vein as this, is that although there was a lot of sexuality and perversion, none of it was done to arouse the reader. Most of it was flat out disgusting and the characters involved would definitely have the opposite effect of turning anyone on for purposes of sexual pleasure. Newman didn’t create anything extreme with this story – and i don’t think that was the purpose anyway – but, he certainly is able to draw different emotions and feelings as you’re reading.
The characters were very well developed for a story of this kind. I really enjoyed the interaction between the main protagonists in the beginning of the book. Dave and Kate’s strained marriage and the tragic circumstances surrounding it, had me very intrigued and actually made me feel sorry for these characters.
Newman’s writing is very easy to devour in this book and I am curious to read some of his other stuff to see how it compares; he has certainly set the bar high with this one.
Moloch is one bad-ass, vile, evil being. It is one villainous character I will not forget anytime soon. His minions do things that make your skin crawl and want to put the book down and run to the shower immediately.
The ending was maybe a little too neat, after everything that had preceded it, but James Newman captured everything I think he was going for with this story. The nod to the 80s era of horror is evident throughout but never became a distraction as I was reading it. This book however stands strongly on its own and is not just some cheap homage to the 80s. Horror fans of all ages can enjoy this regardless of what decade they started to consume horror entertainment.
The Wicked gets a strong recommendation and a flawless 5/5 score from the booth. Dig in and enjoy. Moloch commands it, or else…