Wednesday 18 February 2015

REVIEW: Nate Southard - The Slab City Event

Genre: Horror
Publisher: Sinister Grin Press
Publication Date: 15th Aug 2014
Pages: 178


A copy of The Slab City Event was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the publishers, Sinister Grin Press, in exchange for an honest review. This is it.

The Slab City Event is a weekend of fast custom cars and bikes. It is a weekend where all the people there will eat, drink and be merry. Very merry! Old friendships will reignite over booze, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. The inhabitants of nearby town Niland have a different idea though. Well they would if they could think or act like humans. They want to go to The Slab City Event as well. They don’t want booze, drugs or rock ’n’ roll. They just want to eat! Will anyone survive the coming riot?

I seem to be saying this at the start of reviews regularly, but for differing reasons but – Well now – where do I start?

Zombie books and post-apocalyptic books featuring zombies are probably not my favourite ones to read in the horror genre. I think the reason for that is because they can all be a bit more of the sameish – make sense? I feel sorry for an author writing a zombie story because they need to make them original to hold the reader’s attention if they are like me. Nate Southard certainly held my attention in this one but I’m still undecided as to how I feel about it. He undoubtedly has a talent for writing, that can’t be denied. This is the first thing I have ever read by him and to be honest I would definitely pick up something by him again.

The story starts with a couple of bikers on their way to the event and they stop off in Niland for some food and unwittingly draw the inhabitants out of their hiding places and then further down the few miles to Slab City, a drab trailer park in the middle of the desert. I have to say the opening scenes where the entire town are on the march to Slab City were probably some of the creepiest pages I have read in a while. I challenge you to read this part without getting goose bumps. It paints a very scary picture. From there on it sort of confused me a bit.

When all hell breaks loose things jump between different stories within the main story, concentrating on individual characters, their pasts, their presents and their struggles to survive and escape. It jumps from scene to scene without there being much to connect each one and almost feels like a book made up of short stories in the same main event rather than a continuous novel. Some of the scenes are in the third person and some in the first person. The biggest confusion for me was the two scenes in the first person, but it wasn’t the same person. There is really only one character in the book that makes an appearance at the start, and then the end. All of the “little” stories do come together in a small way but I couldn’t get over the disjointed feeling.

The characters themselves are good. You do get a feeling from them of absolute despair at the situation and can’t help but feel that they are, well, doomed. There is an older couple featured who rescue someone and the old man gets infected while doing so and the narrative and dialogue in this section is heart-breaking, as a couple who have spent their lives together now have to finally face separation.

All in all I did enjoy the story. At times it did feel a bit more of the same to me but as I said at the start, it’s not an easy section of the genre to make original. However, Mr Southard did a fantastic job at the start of the story of building and building the tension when the horde were on the march and this did genuinely creep me the hell out. I also did enjoy the deep human aspect of the story where the individuals examined their inner selves and their minds started to crumble when they realised what was happening. This isn’t a side you read much of.

So, I’m undecided but this shouldn’t really reflect on the writing or the story. It’s just not my favourite theme to read about. Mr Southard’s writing certainly is good and as I say I would read him again. I’ll maybe just try a different subject matter next time.

General rating:

★★★ Liked it. Would read author again but not so recommended.

Horror rating:

★★★ Creepy but no jump out of my seat moments.

You can buy The Slab City Event here:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Book Synopsis:

The Slab City Riot was supposed to be a weekend of hot rods, choppers, and rock and roll, just a bunch of working stiffs cutting loose. But then a horde of dead, hungry killers charges out of the desert, and The Slab City Riot becomes a slaughter. Few survive the initial attack, and those who do find themselves stranded in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by death and chaos. Misfits from all walks of life, these desperate survivors must fight back or die. But the desert is a harsh place, and the dead don’t stop. And Slab City is one hell of a town.

Nate Southard's books include Scavengers, This Little Light of Mine, Red Sky, Just Like Hell, Broken Skin, and He Stepped Through. His short fiction has appeared in such venues as Cemetery Dance, Black Static, Thuglit, and the upcoming anthology Supernatural Noir. His short story "Going Home, Ugly Stick in Hand" received an honorable mention in The Year's Best Horror, and he earned a Bram Stoker Award nomination for his story "In the Middle of Poplar Street." A graduate of The University of Texas with a degree in Radio, Television, and Film, Nate lives in Austin, Texas with his girlfriend and numerous pets.

You can see more of Nate at his website.

Nate's author page is here.

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