Fast cars are not my thing. That whole Fast and Furious movie franchise? Nope. Never saw those. The cover of this book with that muscle car tearing through a desert landscape and the title Eight Cylinders doesn’t appeal to me in the slightest. What does appeal to me is this slim (just over one hundred pages) novella is written by Jason Parent and published by Crystal Lake Publishing. I’m a big fan of both. Crystal Lake consistently publishes quality horror and Parent has a unique storytelling style that I enjoy. Last year, I celebrated his short story, “Russian Dollhouse” from the Midnight in the Graveyard anthology.
I went into this book totally blind. I have been habitually approaching books this way in the last year and I highly recommend it. Sometimes it’s a good thing to stave off early expectations.
Beyond seeing those tentacles on the cover, I had no idea where this story was going to go. I still haven’t read the synopsis but I can give you a tight, little summary that will make you want to read this book — I can promise you that.
So, the book starts out with your classic “gang deal gone wrong” scenario, and our main character, Sebastian McAlister, has to get out of dodge fast. He drives toward Sin City and finds himself hurtling through the desert and ultimately, lost.
He winds up in a strange place populated by these…outcasts who claim to be unable to leave the area because there is some kind of unearthly guardian preventing their escape. Seb quickly discovers this is true.
This is one of those stories you read to have fun. If you show up to a skinny horror novella with a car and tentacles on the cover and you have all these literary expectations, you might be disappointed. The character development is a little thin. Seb is likable but he’s a bit of a motorhead. There’s a lot of details about cars and guns that made my eyes glaze over, but knowing I was here to have a good time prevented me from feeling like I was out of my element.
Jason Parent knows how to lay the groundwork for a proper gore-fest. The pace moves along at a dizzying pace towards an adrenaline-fueled climax and the ending is *chef’s kiss* perfection. I’m not exaggerating when I emphasize that ending — totally and completely worth the price of admission. It’s this reader’s opinion that Jason Parent hit pay dirt with Eight Cylinders. This feels like his wheelhouse and I hope he taps into this universe more.
Fans of Mad Max dystopian vibes, Lovecraftian monsters (I kept visualizing that beast in the mountains from the second season of The Mandalorian), and the energy of a carbonated beverage shaken a thousand times before the top pops off — then this is your jam. Trust your Mother.