CV Hunt is becoming a legend in extreme circles, but I don’t think she gets nearly the credit she deserves for her ability to work in quieter spaces. Luckily, we have Halloween Fiend, a South of Heaven move to follow the Reign in Blood that was last year’s Cockblock.
Barry Johnson has lived in Strang his whole life. A small, sleepy, quiet town of the Bradbury variety. There are no teens rampaging through the streets and everything shuts down at dusk—largely because a beastly figure they have named Halloween roams the town in the dark, demanding sacrifices. Worse, now that both of Bobby’s parents are dead, Halloween seems to have taken a special interest in him.
Halloween Fiend seems to be Hunt’s take on folk horror and she does a marvelous job of making it her own. Yes, there is the small town, olde timey feel that stands as a hallmark and it is steeped in campfire tales. There is also a grim assault on the comfort found in such things and the raw glee of burning it all to the ground that is 100% CV.
In addition to the thrills, chills and goopy-gorey bits of neighborhood pets, Halloween Fiend hammered in for me how great Hunt is at using both character and a strong sense of place as integral elements of the story. This yarn is built around Strang and Bobby and I don’t feel like it could have work in any other setting or to any other protagonist. Halloween Fiend‘s refusal to rely on that bombast and grotesqueness that Hunt’s more known work is, well, known for, highlights how much of a literary force this woman is.
Toss your favorite darker Bradbury in with some Pumpkinhead and The Lottery, shake it up into a nice froth and you will have a decent sense of where this will sit with you. Personally, I adored it.