by Jonathan Maberry
“Still, it had held enough magic to kill the devil, and what more can you ask of a guitar than that?”
Modern horror has a slightly different flavor than traditional, and especially classic, horror. When we look back on horror of the past we find ourselves saying things like, “this worked really well in its time” or “this opened the door.” The movie Psycho springs to mind. In situations where statements like this apply we still have vast appreciation for the work because we can view it in its context. With successful, modern horror, there is no need to do this. Ghost Road Blues is successful, modern horror. It’s not really the date of release that accomplishes this but the attitude and pacing, and Ghost Road has very little of that slow building dread that we often find in traditional horror.
A small town in the woods is turned upside down as the most sadistic killer known to police flees to it while responding to a demonic call to evil, creating an unstoppable combination the locals can’t possibly deal with. Neither can anyone else called in to help.
Most of us are somewhat desensitized to horror as we read so much of it, and many authors respond to this numbness by amping up the gratuitous violence, often in the form of torture, to keep us on edge. There’s a lot of violence here, a lot of horror, and yes, some torture, with none of it gratuitous. It’s a decently long book that moves along quickly with frantic, devil-may-care action.
“If he died…well then, he’d just go rushing into that great big blackness with a hard-on and a curse on his laughing lips and see if the darkness could hold him.”
Ghost Road Blues is a highly recommended read, but you may want to have access to the other books in the trilogy if you’re traveling or secluded–it’s a satisfying book but does end in cliffhanger territory.