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Book Review: PARADISE CLUB by Tim Meyer

Available February 5th

Night Worms got an exclusive, early release!

Paradise Club Or: Getting Clubbed to Death in Paradise
By Sean M. Sanford
There’s a reason Paul Simon claimed to be an Island after he’d already pronounced himself a Rock. It’s cause islands are fuckin creepy yo. Have you ever been on one? Well, I hope you fulfill that part of your bucket list before reading Paradise Club, because chances are, you’ll be un-prone to islandic trepidations thereafter. 
I think most people pair islands with either sketchy isolation, or Utopic get-away’s. Well, Paradise Club ushers in both, in that it’s about a whole lot of isolated people, trying in all desperation to get the hell away. From mass extermination. 
Some of said life-enthusiasts are Elliot Harper, his wife Vanessa, and their two children. Elliot’s an FBI agent, trying to leave the bustle of Special Agentry and enjoy a few days on a resort in the middle of the ocean. Vanessa just wants to have a nice time steeped in relaxation and cocktails. Their teenaged kids, Gwen and Zach, are looking forward to it as well; likely more in the Girls Gone Wild vein. 
Things seem dicey from the moment they step off the boat though, and it spirals ever more brutal until pretty much the last page. Welcome to The Skirmish: A chaotically epic island slaughter-fest. Which I personally loved. This book reminded me of when I used to rent videos at Movie World, my hometown hub, which had one of the best horror sections I’ve ever known. I would peruse the slew of movies I’d never so much as heard of (this was pre-internet), pick out one that looked good, and relish in a giddy evening of gore and awe. I mean, shit, that’s how I first discovered Sleepaway Camp. Awesomeness indeed. I had similar feelings while I read Paradise Club, of a whole slew of Holy Shit! moments; scenes that were so brutal that all I could do was shake my head and smile with delight. And it never really lets up. As soon as the mayhem begins, it pretty much never stops. 
Another thing I loved about Paradise Club was its less-than-predictability. I mean, it was no Usual Suspects, but there were more than a few times when I thought I could figure the direction it was going, and was joyously proven askew. For example, thinking again of some of the movies and books I’ve enjoyed over the years, after the murderous rampage had begun, I imagined that would be the steeze for the remainder. People making poor choices as they’re picked off one by one. But the plot goes deeper, as some of the characters end up having different associations and intentions than I’d originally deduced. 
Also the setting. Meyer puts his readers in a scenario that gives pure birth to desperation. An island; the definition of solitude. Did I ever tell you about when I went sailing with my dear friend Robb and his dad and brother down in Mexico? I remember at one point we were beyond sight of the shoreline, just bobbing along in the Pacific. It felt unreal. Almost what I imagine space might feel like. It didn’t sketch me out per se. It just gave me a wisp of the size of my own significance. As in scant. While there we were invited to a tiny island where some folks were having a potluck. It was really great, but we had a rocky time anchoring, and when we finally did, after taking the dinghy to shore, I looked out at the expanse and felt completely at the mercy of…everything. Like any of my decisions meant nil compared to whatever the sea would choose to make of me. And what if the organizers of said pot luck had been plotting a group-slaying for ungodly reasons? And what if they wore some freaky-ass costume garb as they ran around making mincemeat of all us sacrificial party-goers?
That’s the other thing about Paradise Club that I loved. Sure, bulk liquidation on a secluded island is great. But it goes further when everyone who’s actively involved is wearing some fucked up costume and a, shall we say, artistic implement. Like a duo of clowns raging around with big-ass mallets, flattening every bodily tendril they came across. Or a big-ass Lumberjack with a chainsaw trying to make flesh-toned sawdust of anyone in reach. Not to mention a Samurai with a razor-esque sword. And on it goes. There’s an extended crew of them, all members of Team Skirmish. 
I don’t want to get too specific because it’s more fun to dive in and experience it as it unfolds, but know that it is one hell of a thrill ride. And perfect for reading during Covid, when you couldn’t go to Hawaii even if you wanted.   

Sean M. Sanford was born in northern California and currently lives in San Francisco. He writes fiction for Lowcard magazine, through whom he published a book of his short stories called A Manbaby's Requiem. His book is now available on both his writer's web-site, as well as Lowcard magazine's online catalog. Sanford was the proof-reader and editor of Lowcard for over 10 years. He wrote fiction for the online periodical Defiant Scribe, and currently writes articles for the horror movie web-site The Infinite Eleven and essays for an online non-fiction magazine, The Thoughtful Beggar. He has a book review account on Instagram called @skaters_who_read. He is head editor of an upcoming publication company called Juniper Publishing Co. out of San Francisco, who is currently taking manuscripts. He also owns a handmade incense company with his wife Candice called Effin Relax.   

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