An original horror novel by Jeff Mariotte. In the grim days following 9/11/2001 three veterans of different wars, whose lives have been intersected by magic, find themselves thrown together in California’s cruel desert – while a group of serial killers ply their deadly trade, and an ancient evil grows beneath them.

The Slab is one of those books that transports back to a time when you first started to fall in love the genre.  It reminds of some of the great horror novels of the ’80’s.  That’s not to say the novel feels dated, not by any means. What I’m trying to say, remember those books that had a a roller-coaster fun heart, with a huge cast of characters, that kept you turning each page undr the covers long after your parents told you to go to sleep. 

Unusually, one of the main protagonists of the novel is The Slab of the title.  No it’s not some big muscle brute of a man, in fact it is an area of the American wasteland, just outside Salton Sea, where huge slabs of concrete have been left abandoned  by the military  after they pulled out of the base there.  It is now a home for those who have fallen of the radar.  They are as financially destitue as the landscape around them, eking out a living in makeshift homes clinging to the barest possible form of life. 

Unfortunately for them, their homeland has just been bought the a unscrupulous  developer, aren’t they all, Carter Haynes.  Carter wants to move these folk on so he can develop the land.  But that’s not all that’s out there there is a bunch of serial killers praying on anyone who crosses their paths.  Oh and something old is stirring, something evil, something though long gone.

I like my horror fast paced and thrilling and this books ticks all those boxes with gusto.  In a time where a lot of horror is trying to be something it is not, it was great to read a book, that just plain entertained, and was a joy to read.  The big cast of characters here, works well, and seeing who all their stories intertwined was fun. At no time did the large cast feel over crowded or confusing.  Mariotte has given each cast member their own personality   

By setting the events of the story during the aftermath of Sep 11, Mariotte has infused the story with a strong sense of time and place.  There is a feeling of paranoia an mistrust flowing through the story. And even after 10 years it still feels relevant.

For the most part the supernatural elements of the story are kept to a minimum, which works well, and it helps to ground the novel in the real world, but when it does break out it feels like a natural part of the novel.

I loved this book and I am really looking forward to reading Jeff’s collection Nine frights, if this book is fair representation of his writing skills then Nine frights will be a stonker of a read. 





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