When people contemplate horror tales and movies, zombies, traditional monsters, gruesome scenes, and death come to mind. Its roots started in folklore and religious beliefs revolving around the afterlife, supernatural, and death. Other types of horror involve nature, hostile aliens, rabid animals, killer insects, and perverted criminals – anything that will make people afraid. A good horror tale will scare people with fears they might not have. Take Mylar balloons, for example. I can’t pass a store without stopping in to buy one. Yet Pennywise’s balloons scared the bejesus out of me. I enjoy being around children, but when I edited Kevin R. Doyle’s The Litter, his feral children gave me nightmares.
The Litter offers a traditional monster, death, and feral children. These feral children terrorize a city in brutal ways. They can scent their victims’ fear and capitalize on it in nasty ways. According to some reviewers, Doyle’s book addresses the potential consequences of the breakdown of society and homelessness. That’s possible. Ever since my visit to Atlantic City’s mummy pavilion at age ten, I’ve been a lover of horror and Kevin’s tale was a delight to edit and publish. The body count started with page one. Sure, I had bad dreams along the way, and thus, his mission accomplished.
A great horror tale will keep the surprises coming. Why did Pennywise’s balloons frighten me so much? It’s the surprise element – the clown luring his victim to a brutal death. Kevin filled his tale with lots of surprises – people who knew how to defend themselves, but getting killed. The feral children hungered for meat, and they knew how to catch a victim unaware.
An element of suspense is crucial to an effective horror tale. The action needs to start on page one and keep me reading. In Stephen King’s It, a team of children banded up to fight Pennywise and his minions. All through the book, I kept hoping that the team would survive, but I had my doubts. As I read The Litter, I kept thinking that protag Karen was going to become the next meal.
An element of mystery will give flavor to the horror tale. I’m not talking about whodunits. Sometimes characters can surprise us – even the good guys. Perhaps halfway through the fight, we learn what the major character fears. There’s a strong element of mystery in The Litter. You won’t find out how the feral children got that way until toward the end of the book.
Spoilers (foreshadowing) play a crucial role in any good horror tale. People love them the way I like Mylar balloons. For example, during the first few pages of Steel Rose, Alexis and Johnny were reading about zombies. That spoiler hints that Alexis and Johnny were going to fight some zombies. The Litter has plenty of spoilers. In the prologue, Doyle drops a hint that something ugly is about to happen to one of the characters. And when Karen searched for a missing child, I thought, oh, oh, any second the killers will jump her.
Horror addresses the concept of good versus evil, but some tales will touch on social issues. Does The Litter? Whatever you decide, you’ll meet engaging characters. There’ll be some gruesome moments, so you might want to sleep with the lights on. The Litter debuts this week and will be available in paperback and Kindle on Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble.
So if you love horror, crime, and suspense fiction, stop by and read an excerpt from The Litter. Kevin’s feral children would love to have you for dinner.