G.R. Yeates ; Kindle Edition, Published May 23rd 2011
Vampires are loose in the trenches of the First World War.
Passchendaele, 1917. Private Reg Wilson is a man with a name but no memories. A soldier who remembers nothing of life before the fighting began. Until he comes to Black Wood, a tainted place that knows him intimately. There, he will discover a darkness buried long ago by time and dust. An appetite that has been awoken by war. A hunger that will feed upon his blood, his regrets and his worst fears. It will show him what he has forgotten. It will show him nightmare made flesh. And, before he dies, it will make him look deep into the eyes of the dead.
– Goodreads on The Eyes of the Dead
*shudders* This little darling freaked me out *shudders again*
Now, see, there’s all kinds of horror; there’s the “boo-hoo” and the “boo-hoo-hoo” kind, the mildly amusing darkish delicious kind, the not-so-dark-but-a-bit-spooky kind, the I-wanna-be-a-horror-when-I-grow-up kind, and so on and o forth – all kinds. This right here, this is the freak-you-out-of-your-mind/gross-you-out kind. I’m telling you I had a few moments of nausea while reading, it’s that hardcore terrifying. Well maybe I wouldn’t say terrifying per so, more like a nasty shade of repugnant? *shudders* I think I went through 5 shades of green and 20 or so of pale overall.
I’m really happy I haven’t eaten before starting to read this yesterday, and today either before finishing it up. It could easily have been me heaving, it’s that intense.
Of course, this all translates to a smashing and disturbing success of G.R. Yeates‘s writing. This is truly horrifying, in a deep and disturbing way that very few manage to write. Honestly, I don’t remember reading something quite as disturbing as this novel, and I am into dark and disturbing things by large.
The most ingenious aspect of this degree of horror is simplicity; no matter how elaborate and creative you get, you’ll never manage to be quite as effective as the simple things of life. Like rats. Big, black, chubby rats, munching on some rotten flesh – maybe offering you a bit too. See? I bet you’re bolting for the bathroom already, just after picturing that. And man, there’s so much more of it where that came from.
The author makes use of most people’s natural yuch-factor, instead of trying to create it. That, to me, is incredibly smart. Nothing will ever be as horrific as your natural fears, and chances are a lot of people will find rats, especially flesh eating ones, effectively scary. I know I damn well do.
Of course, the setting is awe-inspiring. Creating vivid images of a First World War battle, the already disturbing and reflex tension associated with filthy battle grounds makes for a beautiful setting; the quirky soldiers, the much too young recruits, the horror of finding yourself in the middle of an especially sour pickle, all of it builds rapidly from the first pages. You’ll instantly grow attached to Brookes, you’ll be somewhat puzzled by Smithy, and most of all, you’ll find Wilson to be the ‘level-headed’ one that you’re constantly cheering for, hoping against hope he’ll make it out of that hellhole alive.
I can honestly say I was completely taken by the story line; it kept me guessing all the while, and I did not picture anything ahead while reading. That’s rare, I always picture scenes ahead, usually I’m proven my flair was right on when I reach them. Well in this case, I was totally lost. It may have been in great part because of the thought-numbing creepy-filled fear of those damn rats. *shudders* You might have guessed it, for me the horror part wasn’t the vampire-y part, that’s never scary material for me as I’ve been a fang-groupie since I was 7 yo, but the rat-y part of it was just…just…*shudders*. Diabolical genius to use those.
I will also say, as I often simply must, that the cover is pretty awesome. You can tell there’s gonna be all kinds of fun just by looking at it.
Now, I will warn you, if you think you’re into horror, but you haven’t really read much of it, this is not the way to start exploring. It will be shocking, intense, and quite overwhelming. I wouldn’t recommend this to horror-noobs, or people with a faint heart (or queasy stomach!). But I would recommend it to horror lovers, as I find it to be a chilling masterpiece of the genre.