“Slasher” is a recognizable and popular genre of horror films but it is also a hotbed of activity this year in horror fiction. I read three slasher books so far in 2019 and while I used to think all slashers were created equal, CAMP SLAUGHTER convinced me that some slashers rise above the stereotypes.
Typically, Slasher books have a large cast of underdeveloped characters in order for the “psycho killer” to have plenty of people to hunt, maim and kill. I’ve also found that slasher fiction isn’t too concerned with plot, leaning heavy on violence as the primary vehicle for entertaining readers. Not really my favorite brand of horror but in all three slashers I have read, something piqued my interest right away.
With CAMP SLAUGHTER, it was the consistently high reviews this book has received from reviewers and readers I trust. So I went outside my preconceived notions and took a chance on this slasher set in the woods of Pennsylvania. Sergio Gomez wastes zero time getting his readers invested in his characters. I noticed this right away. He spends time with them, brings them to life for us and makes us care. Which is dangerous. It’s so dangerous to care about the characters in a slasher novel right?
But then here’s the real unexpected curveball, Gomez threw at me: He made me care about the psycho-killer too. Through some impressive storytelling told in flashbacks--we get to see into Ignacio’s past. Gomez infuses these scenes with detailed imagery and a rich, cultural backdrop that was compelling and drew me in.
So here I am with all these emotions and these people who are so fleshed out and real and about halfway through the story, that tension is thick. Here’s this killer with a name and a backstory who is going to unleash some fresh hell on these teens who show up to a cabin for a weekend getaway. But these aren’t just your average, run-of-the-mill teens ripe for the picking...they’re funny, they have goals and dreams, backstories, relationships, one of the teens brought his little brother along and the more the author closes that gap between his killer (who is increasingly becoming more and more unhinged) and this group of kids, the more I’m trying to read the words through my fingers--I don’t want to see this! This was some scary stuff guys and it was powerful and effective because my heart was involved. I wasn’t just a spectator to blood, guts, and gore--this was a story. It had a real plot with real people and I was compelled to see it through all the way to the heart-pounding conclusion. And it sounds like there could be more- a series? A sequel? A trilogy? Whatever Sergio Gomez decides to offer us, I’m here for it.
5 out 5 stars
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I’ve mentioned this before, and I’ll say it again. I’m a huge fan of the slasher sub-genre. I’ve read quite a few of them recently, and I’m happy to say that Camp Slaughter by Sergio Gomez is another outstanding addition.
With his latest novel, Gomez spins a few story threads together to make up an intriguing, blood-filled yarn that you won’t want to put down. Young adults make their way to the most secluded cabin in Pennsylvania for a weekend of fun. A pair of YouTube documentarians search the area surrounding a campsite to investigate mysterious disappearances in the area. A behemoth of a cannibal hunts the woods, living off the land and human prey. All of these pieces come together to make an entertaining splatter-fest. The book is well written, keeping the reader interested in the story not only for the blood, but because you’re invested in what’s going on as well. Gomez does a nice job of crafting believable characters with just enough depth to make them more than Machete-fodder.
Let’s talk about the antagonist, Varias Caras. Sergio Gomez did an excellent job of creating a cannibalistic murderer who is brutal, vicious, and bloodthirsty. Varias Caras isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, but what he lacks in intelligence, he makes up for in sheer physicality. Gomez spent some time developing a backstory for his antagonist, making him more than just a mechanism of murder; Varias Caras is a character just as important as anyone else in the book. I would have liked to see aspects of his past explored a bit more, and although Varias Caras is largely a realistic character, there is a bit of a supernatural aspect that I felt could have been explored more. With luck, and if the author’s note at the end is any indication, we may get a chance for a deeper dive.
Camp Slaughter by Sergio Gomez is a worthy entry into the slasher Sub-Genre. It’s a fun, bloody romp through the woods, with more depth and emotion than I had anticipated. It might not be the best of the bunch, something like that is always up for debate, but it holds its own against the competition.
John is a native of Cranston, Rhode Island. He served 4 years in the United States Marine Corps, deploying twice to Iraq and Afghanistan. He’s a lover of all things horror, pizza and cheeseburgers. When he’s not reading or watching boxing he spends his time with his amazing wife and two beautiful sons.