There are different forms of horror in literature. There’s the psychological horror that is found in Poe and Lovecraft. There’s the suspenseful horror found in King. And there’s the horror of gore that can be found in the ‘splatter-punk’ genre. Nick Cutter’s The Troop is a combination of all these forms of horror and creates a remarkably terrifying book.
The Troop tells the tale of a group of scouts camping in the remote wilderness on an island, with their scout leader, a respected doctor from their community, when a stranger, ragged and bedraggled, wanders into their camp seeking help. The stranger brings with him what the doctor at first thinks might be a disease, but turns into a horror beyond his ken and will haunt the troop.
This book starts with the pleasant tones of young men, boys, camping and enjoying their chance to be boys alone. Clearly Cutter has experienced this means of growth in a young man’s life. And with the appearance of the stranger, the book begins a tone of psychological horror that is carried along quite well. Slowly, Cutter adds in the horror of gore and underlying it all is suspense.
Cutter understands that sometimes the most horrific aspects of a story can come from the most clinical of descriptions, and he wisely, and carefully, integrates some different story points which adds to the horror. But his prose also helps set the tone for this kind of story. For instance, I loved this simple description:
Its color reminded Shelley of the boiled organ meat his mother fed to their dog.
It is this kind of writing that captures a mood, a tone, that Cutter manages throughout.
I’ve read a fair number of horror books in the past year, and this one reminds me favorably of the early Stephen King books that I enjoyed so much back in the 80’s and I finally feel that horror … good horror … can still be found in today’s fiction.
Looking for a good book? If you like good horror fiction, The Troop, by Nick Cutter, hits the mark and is a must-read.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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author: Nick Cutter
publisher: Gallery Books
hardcover, 358 pages