Saturday, October 9, 2010

Reviews: The Red Church and Burial to Follow by Scott Nicholson

The Red Church
Author: Scott Nicholson
Publication: Haunted Computer Books (December 30, 2009)

Description: For 13-year-old Ronnie Day, life is full of problems: Mom and Dad have separated, his brother Tim is a constant pest, Melanie Ward either loves him or hates him, and Jesus Christ won't stay in his heart. Plus he has to walk past the red church every day, where the Bell Monster hides with its wings and claws and livers for eyes. But the biggest problem is that Archer McFall is the new preacher at the church, and Mom wants Ronnie to attend midnight services with her.

Sheriff Frank Littlefield hates the red church for a different reason. His little brother died in a freak accident at the church twenty years ago, and now Frank is starting to see his brother's ghost. And the ghost keeps demanding, "Free me." People are dying in Whispering Pines, and the murders coincide with McFall's return.

The Days, the Littlefields, and the McFalls are descendants of the original families that settled the rural Appalachian community. Those old families share a secret of betrayal and guilt, and McFall wants his congregation to prove its faith. Because he believes he is the Second Son of God, and that the cleansing of sin must be done in blood.

"Sacrifice is the currency of God," McFall preaches, and unless Frank and Ronnie stop him, everybody pays.

Burial to Follow
Author: Scott Nicholson
Publication: Haunted Computer Books (December 22, 2009)

Description: When Jacob Ridgehorn dies, it's up to Roby Snow to make sure his soul goes on to the eternal reward. The only way Roby can do that is convince the Ridgehorn family to eat a special pie. Lurking in the shadows is a mysterious figure named Johnny Divine, monitoring the crossroads between the living and the dead. Southern Appalachian funeral customs get crossed when Roby has to perform miracles...or else.

My Thoughts: These are two books by an author who made my blog one of the stops on his current blog tour. I read almost no horror and hadn't tried his books before. These were purchased for my Kindle.

Burial to Follow was an interesting story. It was filled with Southern funeral detail and vivid descriptions. For example, "Harold stuck close to her, like a dog following a bucket of chicken guts." From the mundane, the story segued into a horror story. While I didn't completely understand what was going on, apparently Roby made a deal with the devil in return for his life and now has to make sure that all the mourners at a death eat some of a special pie which was made by a woman who had made her own deal with the devil. 

The Red Church was longer and didn't really manage to engage my attention or interest. I'll admit I skimmed the last quarter of the book. It was told from the viewpoint of a sheriff and of a 13-year-old boy. It dealt with ancient curses and a weird religious cult that included cannibalism. This preacher has returned from the dead to preach his new religion which involves sacrifice of the old families who were involved in the hanging of another preacher. 

Both of these were OK if you like horror and ghost stories. I preferred Burial to Follow. They both had some creepy moments interspersed with a lot of detail about the way of life in isolated areas of the Appalachians. I would recommend them only to lovers of horror who like their books to have a slow pace.   

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