Narrator: Kevin Meyer
Publisher: Lilydog Books (2017)
Length: 9 hours 46 minutes
Set in Santa Cruz, California, the house on Sunny Hill has been rented out to one group of college students or another for the past 20+ years. Now Drew Brady and his crew party every night at the house and occasionally attend classes. The close camaraderie the group has starts to shift once Drew discovers a box of old Polaroids in the basement, one of which shows the then-students messing around with what appears to be a human skull. Drew starts having terrifying visions and his mood starts spirally towards paranoia and anger, perhaps becoming dangerous to his friends. Part psychological thriller, part horror flick, this book makes you think twice before going down into the basement again.
The story has a good set up, introducing each of the main characters in unique and engaging ways. First, Drew is a nerd after my own heart. I really enjoyed all the nerdom surrounding this guy and instantly wanted to invite him into my inner circle. His housemates Carter (a muscular, attractive young man) and his girlfriend (a sometimes frigid, and sometimes funny young woman) provide that handsome, happy couple example for the story. Drew’s love interest, Bea, lives nearby but is often at the house partying with the crew. Meanwhile, Drew’s friend Jay comes for a visit along with his googly-eyed dog Popeye and his two homophobic friends.
As a side note, there’s lots of modern slang all over the place in this book and some of it is made up of homophobic remarks. We see everything through Drew’s eyes and his character makes the internal comment that Jay’s friends aren’t really homophobic despite their comments because they have never even met a gay person. OK, it’s character building all around. These guys are comfortable in their derogatory, casual statements and jeers and Drew’s OK with it because it doesn’t go any deeper than that. Regardless of my personal views on such remarks, it’s showing these flawed characters which I can live with. However, it still got a bit tiring simply because it comes up so many times in the story.
Speaking of tiring phrases and such, there is quite a bit of partying in this book. While that lives up to my expectations for a large chunk of college students, it did get a bit repetitive and tiring to have them always doing pot, lighting up (nicotine or otherwise), and drinking until they pass out or vomit or both.
Having gotten those criticisms out of the way, this was a pretty decent story. It has elements of both horror and psychological thriller. I liked that we never had too much of either. It wasn’t a gore fest but there are some pretty horrific scenes. Meanwhile, I was always questioning just how much I could trust Drew’s observations. Is he under the influence of some buried demon that inhabits the house’s basement? Or is he just a truly insecure guy that’s headed down the wrong road? In fact, Drew questions this about himself often and that kept me guessing about Drew for the entirety of the book.
The side character that I enjoyed the most was Andy, a local cop. He’s also a bit of a mystery in the same way that Drew is. Is he a good cop that suspects more than he’s letting on or is he part of the problem? As creepy things start happening more and more frequently around Sunny Hill, we get more time with Andy.
The tale ends on a cautionary note about how words have power and that teasing or neglect can twist someone up inside, potentially creating a monster in the long run. I thought it was interesting that the author ended things on this note considering the amount of homophobic remarks that go unchallenged in this book. The two seemed at odds with each other and yet I can’t say that the author didn’t do so on purpose. This story is either very well planned out or the author flailed around until he got it right. Either way, it is an entertaining read and leaves plenty to think about afterwards.
I received a free copy of this book via The Audiobookworm.
The Narration: Kevin Meyer did a pretty good job with this narration. He was perfect for Drew and seemed to enjoy the role with all the nerd references. He also had a very good creepy laugh that was used here and there throughout the tale. While he did well with all the modern slang, making it sound natural, there were also a few times where music lyrics were simply recited instead of sing-songed. I know this is a tough one for many narrators, but the recited lyrics felt a bit stiff instead of natural.
What I Liked: I was guessing about Drew the entire book; I had my doubts, and my hopes, about Andy the cop as well; enough horror to get the point across without being a gorefest; definitely some psychological thriller going on here; interesting way to end things.
What I Disliked: Homophobic remarks and partying references throughout the entire book got a bit tiresome.
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About Author Adam Vine:
Adam Vine was born in Petaluma, California. By day, he is a game writer and designer. He has lived in four different countries and visited almost thirty. His short fiction has appeared in various horror, science fiction, and literary fiction magazines and anthologies. When he is not writing, he is traveling, reading something icky, or teaching himself to play his mandolin. He currently lives in Germany.
Synopsis of Lurk:
Some secrets should stay buried….
College student Drew Brady never wanted the power to spy on his friends. But late one night, he finds a box of old Polaroids buried under his house that can change to show him whatever he desires, and Drew finds himself with the power to watch the people around him without them ever knowing.
Yet as Drew falls deeper into the rabbit hole of jealousy and despair, he begins having strange visions of the students who lived at the house 20 years ago and the gruesome fates they met after moving out. He finds evidence of a stalker who may be living on the property. The line between reality and nightmare blurs. Drew realizes there is something under the house that is manipulating him through the pictures, an eldritch, not-quite-dead thing that will drive him to do unspeakable evil if he doesn’t look away….
A blistering horror story, Lurk is unlike anything you’ve ever heard.
About Narrator Kevin Meyer:
A devoted Midwesterner, raised in rural Wisconsin and transplanted to Tulsa, Oklahoma over three decades ago. A career-long voice-over and music radio guy, my iPhone playlist ranges from Alice Cooper and Waylon Jennings to Twenty One Pilots and The Zac Brown Band. Favorite reads are dominated by political biographies (Lincoln, Truman, Kennedy)…and Stephen King. And now Adam Vine…’cause day-um that Drew Brady is one twisted mother!’