It had stood for centuries, a brooding sentinel overlooking the North Sea, long enough for old mysteries to settle and gnarled roots to creep insidiously into the earth. Within the dank walls of Crawford Manor, secrets were given time to breathe.
It’s always a pretty rad moment in a reader’s life when a new-to-you author and/ or book strikes a chord and resonates in ye olde brainpan. Something that gets you excited to spread the word or preach the gospel. It’s an even better moment when that book (or better yet, writer) is fairly new to the scene, which presents a different dynamic when you share. Tell your friends and peers about this awesome Robert R. McCammon or Uncle Stevie (or Burke or Janz or...) joint you just read and sometimes they respond with, “uh... yeah. That’s been a staple for years, bro” And you, the slighted reader, walk away or back from the keyboard with your head dropping a bit in shame.
But when you tell them about an awesome new book by a new player on the scene, you get the more satisfying response of “tell me more!” It feels like being king of the hill for a moment. And yes, I exaggerate a bit. But the sentiment is real. It is a nice feeling when you can turn someone on to a new book, a new writer when you can share something that has the potential to get someone else excited to read.
Enter Night Shoot, the highly enjoyable second novel from David Sodergren, he of Paperbacks and Pugs fame. I dig Sodergren’s style of writing. He brings a throw-back feel to his narratives as if you were bestowed this novel from a previous generation, classic sensibility with modern execution. Imagine a book that feels like it was written in the Teens, but filtered through the ’90s, then again through the ’80s.
That’s Night Shoot, a yarn concerning a cast & crew converging at an old manor attempting to blast out the principal photography for an indie horror film in a single sitting. The house has a history and a secret. Of course things don’t go to plan, and of course, mayhem ensues. Chunky, bloody mayhem. Would we want it any other way? No, not I. Scorecard: Mystery, yes. Tomfoolery, yes. Nudity and naughty bits, yes. Gore, hells yes. Gore is timeless of course.
The mashup feeling of old and new is an all-encompassing theme, permeating beyond style and presentation. It’s seeped into the core of Night Shoot. It’s in the visual quality of the gothic backdrops, which are super easy to envision and get lost in. Something that oftentimes gets overlooked in this era of indie run-and-gun horror. More importantly, it is in the framework of the cast of characters, all entertaining in their own right. But with top billing, you have the sleazy director type in all his glory butting heads with the bubbly starlet who... actually has a realistic reaction to a given situation... Well, that’s different. And interesting. Greasy sycophants who are cliché just enough to still be fun and female leads less cliché then you might expect given a) the narrative set up b) that you’re reading a straight-up horror novel c) you’re reading a horror novel written by a male d) all of the above. Again, right on.
Whipping up a narrative that feels familiar and fresh in the same tasty morsel is a wonderful talent, and David has now done that twice. Sodergren strikes me as someone who has seen a shit ton of scary movies and has read twice the number of books. He also seems to have a firm grasp on how it all works when it comes to crafting a compelling narrative. I enjoyed Night Shoot a great deal, it is a satisfying follow up to an equally satisfying debut, The Forgotten Island. Two books that I’d call must-reads. When it comes down to Sodergren brand fiction I feel that I am not a reviewer, I have become a fan. As such, I am quite excited to see what’s next and where David’s writing career takes him.
Give Night Shoot a try, I think you’ll dig it.
Entertainment value 5/ 5
- Zakk Madness is a big, dumb animal!
Zakk Madness is a 40 something horror nerd and yo-yo enthusiast. Not a critic, but a fan of horror fiction. Former reviewer for The Mouths of Madness Podcast show, he currently reviews as The Eyes of Madness. When this chaotic life is keeping him from reading he is spending what free time he has with his wife and their three sons.