Author: Heather Herrman
Genres: Horror | Paranormal
Length: 288 pages | 4712 locations
John and Erma are going through a rough patch in their marriage. While moving across the country for John’s new job opportunity, they get stranded in small town Cavus due to Erma’s car breaking down. Most folks seem very nice and friendly, while others… There is just something off about them.
Something evil has been awakened. Can John and Erma survive? Can the other townspeople?
It took me a while to get into the book. First of all, it took me a while to figure out there were two characters besides the body on the floor, because I found the names so similar, Grady and Graham.
Other than that, I thought it was just me not being able to focus but there was definitely something about the prose, which continued later on. It’s that thing where the author tries to give you clues to what will come later but it is just too confusing and you know you should be paying attention and remember all this for later because it sounds mysterious and important, but there isn’t anything to hold on to just yet, you know?
Then I started getting into the story and slowly wanting to know what happened to the characters, even though I could not relate to them much because there wasn’t much background on who they were. But I think anyone, even single people like me, can relate and sympathize with a struggling marriage.
I enjoyed the suspenseful atmosphere immensely, how some people sounded sane but you just knew something was wrong with others. And there were ones who were just naturally kooky, part of their charm, like Anita. Ah, gossipy Anita. She made me smile.
The monsters scared the hell out of me, especially because part of them was still human. They sounded so horrific and yet so real. There was gore but also psychological horror and it was all very palpable and gripping. Definitely my favourite part of the book – not knowing if the character was infected and, if so, what would come out of their mouth next.
However, some things brought the enjoyment and therefore the rating down for me.
I have to start by stressing that I was not a fan of the blurb comparing this book to Stephen King’s work. First of all, SK is unique. He is my favourite author, always has been and probably always will be. I still have not found anyone whose capability to weave a supernatural story out of the mundane, as well as the writing style, amongst many other things, even remotely resembles his. Maybe Peter Straub or Neil Gaiman come close but sorry, not Heather Herrman. Yes, I get a vibe of something like Desperation, but still, come on, it’s Stephen King we are talking about here.
And it’s not even about this horror genius alone – this has happened to me very recently with Luckiest Girl Alive, which got compared to Gillian Flynn’s work. Luckily, I had never read anything by said author, but I noticed this made several reviewers lower their rating. You see, while this may seem like a genius marketing strategy, I for one think not, and obviously others agree. It makes the author sound amateurish and have feelings of grandeur while trying to compare themselves to such established authors – not to mention that the reader will constantly be comparing the two in their mind as they read, and therefore end up not appreciating the book for what it is.
Now, regarding the story itself, here are the main issues I had with Consumption:
I felt misled a couple of times, like right at the beginning. He stood before her undressed, and she saw that his skin was much too pale to be called “healthy”. (…) “The condom,” she said, hating herself for saying it. Now I don’t know about you but I honestly thought the guy was sick with AIDS or something equally bad. Turns out she just didn’t want to have a baby. Go figure.
While I loved the way the author kept me on edge, particularly at the end of the chapters, I was disappointed that there were sometimes no resolutions to what she set up. I get that we need to wait – that’s what suspense is all about – but leaving things unfinished is very disheartening. For instance, a chapter ends with Star seeing a woman in the backseat of her father’s car. What did she do? At the very least, what did she think? Her dad and her were supposed to have dinner shortly, was the woman supposed to stay in the car all that time? She wasn’t curious at all? I don’t buy it.
And what about the feeders not being able to see Star when all hell broke loose, what was up with that? And who the heck was The Feeder’s sister?? I don’t want to say I finished the book with more questions than answers but it was still enough to feel cheated out of a full experience.
Erma and John, particularly Erma. Quite frankly, she annoyed the heck out of me most of the time I was reading about her. Main moments when she seriously pissed me off:
When we come to present day narrative, both of them have thoughts about divorce, or at least have a clear sense they have hit a point of no return. Then John starts being patient with her and in a better mood over all for no apparent reason and she suddenly wants to have his baby? The exact reason why they grew apart? Just like that.
I kept feeling she did not know her husband at all. Erma was surprised that John had left without seeing her first, but that was just John. You never could tell what was going on in his brain. Come on. What kind of couple is this?
Going back to the baby matter, why on earth did she not tell him of her daddy issues?? He is her husband! She knew how much he wanted to be a father and the only reason she gives him as to not want a child with him is ‘look what the world has become, there is no way I am bringing a child to this world’? And I am supposed to sympathize with this person?
Her whole family speech and how the whole group is different from ‘them’. It was beyond sappy. And no, just because a couple of characters said it was ridiculous does not make it ok. It’s like the author was trying much too hard to tell the reader that this is not your typical apocalyptic story because her characters are so different so it’s much more special than everything else out there.
The horror/paranormal premise. We are told that The Feeders steal our bodies and use the evil that is already in us to be born. They feed not just on flesh but on the evil within us. How the heck can a kid have evil inside?? A toddler?! And Lucy, the very first victim. We are told she was basically an innocent 14-year-old kid and yet she gets possessed, not her rapist? Sorry, doesn’t make any sense to me. Oh and speaking of which, what the heck happened to her baby? There was no mention of it at all.
I felt there wasn’t much character development overall. We were told some stuff about each of them but I never really related to any of them. Javier going from a good-hearted, hard-working young man, infatuated with a sweet, shy girl, to a raging, blood-thirsty axe-wielding killer after having found out his mother and daughter killed was the most striking one. It’s like he didn’t grieve at all.
Kids adding an extra ‘ed’ at what felt like every single simple past tense felt fake and got annoying pretty fast.
All in all, there was plenty of good things in this book. It is a good horror book, with some innovative aspects, while others were not new at all, like the whole getting stranded in the middle of nowhere due to car issues beginning.
Some things were predictable, others not so much, and some were just plain shocking – usually the case when children are involved.
It’s an entertaining read; I just feel that it could have been a lot better polished in key aspects. At some point, I wasn’t that interested anymore because I was never very engaged in the story. I guess I like my horror with a bit more work in plot and character. Obviously, that is not a requirement for everyone, so I do recommend it to horror fans.
Disclaimer: I would like to thank the publisher and Netgalley for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Read from Jul 23 to Ju 27, 2015