Ben Ray Collins is a serial killer fanboy who gets caught trying to execute a copycat murder. By some stroke of luck, he manages to escape prison and finds himself at Camp Still Waters, but the waters are anything but still. Some kind of natural phenomenon is happening there and a team of scientists head out to learn more.
Eddie Generous is the founder, publisher, editor at Unnerving Magazine. If you haven’t checked out any issues, I highly recommend it. There are always interesting articles, interviews and short stories by horror’s finest authors.
I’ve been meaning to read some of Eddie’s horror fiction since I’m such a fan of the magazine. Trouble at Camp Still Waters seemed like the perfect opportunity. I love reading creature features, summer camp slashers and nature horror during the summer and this book promises all three!
As introductions go, the prologue had me worried. I felt like the protagonist, KC Brennan, made some unrealistic choices by taking her two small children on an impromptu stake-out of a man she suspects is a killer. Generous’ writing style also takes some getting used to – there are choppy, broken sentences and a lot of unusual (confusing) metaphors. As a scene begins to escalate, law enforcement is called, but Eddie gives them the old “donut eating” stereotype.
I almost didn’t move on to chapter one, but I wanted to start reading about those “mutated snake-fish, giant crabs, massive spiders and terrifying cryptids” the synopsis teased me with.
As much as I find Generous’s writing clunky and often times juvenile in his descriptions (especially anything to do with sex), I found myself interested enough in the story to see it through to the end.
It’s this reader’s opinion that horror is the most successful when I can fully invest in the characters so that I can engage emotionally with the story. Unfortunately, in the case of Still Water, none of the characters are even remotely interesting or developed. They are uniform, wooden people. Everything is told to the reader instead of shown through dialog or intentional actions/motivations.
The antagonist, Ben Ray Collins is a faceless monster. I was totally unsure what his motivations were other than what was explained in narration. I get that he is obsessed with famous serial killers but it was pretty one-dimensional and couldn’t explain why this man was so hellbent on cruelty.
The creatures finally make an appearance at the end but I was disappointed in the descriptions. They were “huge” or they were “furry” and they “humped each other with ‘furry penises’ and ‘furry vaginas.’
I would like to applaud Eddie’s work with Unnerving Magazine and his dedication to the genre. Unfortunately, this foray into his horror fiction just didn’t work for me.