Daniel I. Russell is the author of Entertaining Demons, Samhane, Retard, Come Into Darkness, Critique, The Collector Book 1: Mana Leak, Mother's Boys and the huge collection Tricks, Mischief and Mayhem. Daniel is a HWA active member and represented by the Tobias Literary Agency, NYC. Daniel has also been the vice-president of the Australian Horror Writers' Association, special guest editor of Midnight Echo, associate and technical editor for Necrotic Tissue, and Shadow Awards judge.
I want to talk about...gore
Read Daniel in...
Friday, February 04, 2011Blood Orchard by S.D. Hintz
Okay, here we go. While I'm always honest in my reviews, the more astute of you may know that S.D. Hintz is one of my publishers...but that won't spare him the toasting I give every book I read. Blood Orchard is his first full-length debut novel.
Onward is a town with a history, a history of missing triplets. Fifteen years ago, the Sheriff's teenage triplets, a trio called the Blondies, disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Not surprisingly, most of the residents were glad, as the Blondies' reign of violence, harassment and vandalism was finally over. Bad point, that makes everyone a suspect. Skip ahead, and triplets are missing again, this time three baby girls. Psychotic Sheriff Pritchard, a Chicago detective and a mild-mild mannered reporter are all trying to crack the case, but the town's bloody history and mounting paranoia may mean the wrong man is found guilty, and the babies will never be found.
There's a lot to be said about Blood Orchard, both good and bad, and what this results in is a very unique book. Very unique indeed. It's very hard to compare Hintz to another writer, what with the style and voice he has here in Blood Orchard.
*I refuse to abbreviate like usual, as I would then be calling the book BO.
Let's start off at the beginning.
Major problem, and this might just be a personal thing, and in no way a reflection of the writer, but more the publisher. I have no idea what the thought was behind the choice of font. There's something about it which, for me, didn't make the text instantly enjoyable. It took a few pages for my eyes to adjust (for want of a better explanation) to the font, especially in flashback scenes, which are italised. Hopefully, when a second edition of the book emerges, a more standard font will be used.
The book opens and we hit the ground running, which works for it as much as against it. It's a jarring start, and the reader is immediately dropped into this crazy situation. The characters are lacking in development at this point (I mean, it is chapter 1!) and the reader just has to ride it out. For those readers who love show over tell, this is how Hintz develops his characters. Like a fly on the wall, the readers can only develop an opinion about each character from their actions and speech, not drawn out ramblings about what they like to eat for their dinner and the name of their first pet, etc. Even the flashbacks, which gradually fill in the holes of the mystery, are written this way. It's refreshing, allows a wider reader opinion of characters and also gives a full-tilt pace.
The book definitely becomes more engrossing the more you read, and the last half will keep the pages turning. You'll be confused in the first half, and at some points have no clue what's going on, but rest assured, Hintz has got this covered. You're dancing to his tune, and he knows where the beat is going.
It may be considered that the book does too much headjumping and flashbacking. This is tit for tat, as while you can't get super in depth with a character, as you aren't with them long enough, things never get dull and the pace never lets up.
The gore is done tactfully, but that doesn't mean there's not much in there. Again, the last half of the book is chock full of nasty, and personally, I think it was done just right, but then again I am a gore hound. One image in particular is vivid, unsettling and will stay with you.
I can recommend this book for horror fans who are looking for a quick, snappy read. I can see this not being everyone's cup of tea, but this writing style is worth a look just to see if it suits. It's a great starting point for a novel career, and I am very interested to see what S.D. comes up with in light of this release.