Don’t judge a book by it’s cover – is an old saying everyone has heard time and time again. The first time I saw author Steve Vernon promote this book, I was immediately drawn to the cover. That – combined with an interesting synopsis- was the perfect combination to reel me in as a reader. So in this case, the cover with the menacing Scarecrow got me.
This is a story where the past makes its presence felt in the present. The accidental or not so accidental re-awakening of an old evil. In this case, an old, evil witch named Thessaly Cross, who was buried alive 300 years ago, after many failed attempts by the people in the town of Crossfall to kill her after having condemmed her. A Preacher at the time, sacrificed himself in order to bury her, but that incident so long ago would come back to haunt this town.
We are introduced to several characters in present-day Crossfall, including Maddy Harker – a woman that had it with being in an abusive marriage and ends up killing her hubby Vic with one of the most devastating weapons ever conceived…a frying pan. She buries the bastard in the same field where the witch Thesally Cross had been buried three centuries ago. Three days later, Vic returns from the field – looking like a Scarecrow from Hell, filled with an unbelievable rage, evil and a thirst for death and power. He becomes the self-proclaimed “Straw King” and TATTERDEMON. Vic goes on to commit some atrocious acts that lead to him quickly building an army of undead Scarecrows, ready to take over an entire town.
Vernon does a terrific job at intertwining all of the different characters into the story, with many interesting sub-plots along the way. The violence and gore is well-written and suits the story well and is not done for shock value alone. I’ve read much sicker material before, but Vernon’s great way with words made it all seem more real to me as the reader than some of the more overt extreme stuff out there. There is also a good amount of dry-humour trinkled throughout but never to the point where it takes away from the sheer terror going on in the story. I also appreciated some of the Canadian references Vernon put in there even though I am not from that particular part of Canada.
The final few chapters involve some of the better written action and dialogue between characters that I have read in some time. The climax moves at a blistering and entertaining pace with a satisfying ending.
This was the second Steve Vernon book I’ve read, although it is also the first full length story. I have been very entertained by his work so far and look forward to reading and reviewing some more of his stuff. I really hope someone out there reads this and wants to turn it into a horror flick – it certainly has the stuff I would consider necessary for an enjoyable horror flick.