Friday 21 October 2016

REVIEW: David Bernstein - The Sludge

Genre: Horror
Publisher: Great Old Ones Publishing
Publication Date: 4th July 2016
Pages: 131


A copy of The Sludge was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the author, David Bernstein, in exchange for an honest review. This is said review. This book is published by Great Old Ones Publishing.

Sometimes this reviewing game throws you surprises. A lot in fact. A lot of welcome surprises. One of them that never fails to amaze me is the fact that, sometimes you read someone’s work and rave about it. Then you pick up something else of theirs and it doesn’t do a lot for you. When you review it, you automatically think that is the last you will hear from that author. Think this reviewing lark is easy? It’s a minefield I tell you.

David Bernstein’s last book, A mixed Bag of Blood was a collection that I didn’t really connect with. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it, but it didn’t grab me the way some of his other stuff has.

I was delighted when David sent me a copy of The Sludge to review. Firstly, because he hadn’t fallen out with me, and secondly because…..well…..just look at that cover! It screams old skool horror! I couldn’t wait to get my teeth into it.

This is what I thought.

Bull and John are removing some toxic waste. They should dispose of it carefully but they are just going to dump it in Lolo National Forest.

They throw it in a lake and it mixes with some stuff they dumped years ago and starts a chain of events that will create a monster no one thought could ever exist.

Cole and Derrick are brothers. They are about to rob a bank with their friend, Dirk. The plan is to hide out in Lolo after the job is done.

Edgar, June, Kim and Tyler are hiking in Lolo when they stumble across the camp belonging to the brothers. Everyone is in for the shock of their lives.
The Sludge is brewing.

Our characters in this one are bloody brilliant. Bull and John aren’t in it for too long so can’t say much about them other than they are twats for what they did. Cole and Derrick are brilliant. Small time criminals with big time ambitions convinced that robbing a bank is the answer to their prayers. They probably would have been right if they picked somewhere else to hide out.

Edgar and June are a couple. Both outdoor types and totally into their hiking. June is a nurse and seems to be pretty worldly wise but Edgar is a different matter. Kim and Tyler are a couple too. Kim is like Edgar and Tyler like June. Seems to me like they should swap. They also keep a lot of secrets.

Then of course we have The Sludge. I’m not going to tell you what it is or what it looks like. Just look at the cover. How it comes to be is unrealistic and nothing short of fantasy but you know what? It is superb. Think B movie person in a rubber suit type monster. Stupid in one sense but creepy in another.

The plot is simple. Take the three situations mentioned above and mix them all together and throw in some sludge. The thing that I love about the way David Bernstein writes this stuff though is that although the plot is simple and follows a certain path, it is unpredictable. You can guess what way things are going to go. The chances are you will be wrong though. The variables always change when you don’t expect them to. It’s like a rollercoaster you have never been on before. You know you are going to get thrills but you just don’t know when or where.

Mr Bernstein has a knack for writing stories that make you feel at ease very early. You feel like you belong. You can imagine yourself being there watching everything that is happening or even taking part yourself. He makes it believable. This is why I enjoy his stuff so much. There is nothing complicated about it. You can set it down for days on end if you wanted to and when you pick it up again you don’t have to try and remind yourself what the story was doing. It hits you as soon as you start to read again.

I have a negative though. Not enough horror for me. When you start to learn of The Sludge’s transformation – from what, and into what, I am not going to tell you – it is horrific. You will cringe at the description of how it interacts with a human. You will feel sick. You may hold onto parts of your body very tightly.

When it makes an appearance in the story, it is genuinely creepy and tense. It just doesn’t happen enough for me. Doesn’t make the story any worse, it just could have been a bit scarier.

To summarise: a good old fashioned monster story that could be directly out of a comic. Brilliant characters again that are easy to read and make the story flow very well. Just needed some more scares for me.

General rating:

★★★★ nearly there.

Horror rating:

★★★ needed more for me.

If you would like to help support Confessions of a Reviewer, then please consider using the links below to buy The Sludge or any other books from David. This not only supports me but also lets me know how many people actually like to buy books after reading my reviews.


Book Synopsis:

Deep in Montana's Lolo National Forest, toxic waste is leaking from aged oil drums and mixing with a new batch of biological sludge that has been dumped into a remote lake. It sickens, it mutates, and like cancer, it spreads and devours.

A group of hiker’s stumble upon bank robbers who've been hiding out in the forest. Held at gunpoint, they soon discover they are being hunted by a vicious predator, and it will take their combined efforts to make it out of the forest alive.


I am a dark fiction writer, a horror writer. I write the gamut, from atmospheric horror to extreme gory horror to dark fiction and dark thriller, oh, and the occasional bizarro tale.

Gory: The Unhinged, Damaged Souls, Witch Island, Apartment 7C, Amongst the Dead

Extreme horror: The Unhinged (you were warned)

Horror with a twist: The Tree Man, Apartment 7C

Zombie fiction: Machines of the Dead trilogy. Amongst the Dead.

Darkfuse horror: Relic of Death, Surrogate, Skinner (coming July 2015)

Dark thriller/supernatural/ action: Tears of No Return, Toxic Behemoth

Monster horror: Toxic Behemoth (Deep Sea/Kaiju book)

Bizarro/Gross out/funny horror: Fecal Terror

And for more about David, visit his site or find him on social media:

Website – Facebook – Twitter – Goodreads – Amazon Page - Sinister Grin Press

1 comment:

  1. I'm intrigued. Sounds like a Troma film, mixed with the pallet of Guy N. Smith ... which, believe me, is high praise! So may have to get myself a copy on Kindle.