Recently I read Stuart West’s new horror/suspense book, Godland. I’m not usually a reader of horror so I was reluctant. But, this book grabbed me from the first sentence. I’m a big fan of first sentences. Check out my blog post: First Sentences that Hook. Here is the first sentence of Godland: “A blast sheared open the night sky.” Seven little words, but what powerful words. From those words, the reader knows they are in for a roller-coaster ride like they’ve never experienced before.
His chapters are brief and have many breaks. He goes from the point of view of his main characters (Edwin, Peter, Matt, Shannon). He writes in a tight fashion. No words are wasted. Here’s an example: “Hell, he practically owned New York City or at least most of it. And why not? He earned it.” The quick terse writing style keeps the reader entranced. Because he jumps from four points of view, the reader never gets too close to any character. And, believe me, that’s a good thing. West skillfully changes the point of view. He does not “head hop.” There’s a break whenever there’s a change as a clear signal to the reader.
The reader will quickly recognize Edwin as a sociopath with a religious bent. Peter, his son, is a clear narcissist. Matt is a bit wimpy. There is really no one in whose mind one wants to remain. Shannon, the fifteen-year-old, is the most likable. Because everyone’s lives are in danger, it’s best we readers do not get too close to the main players.
It reminded me of when I read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and the sequel, The Girl Who Played with Fire. Reading those books on my device, I had no idea how much was left. When I scrolled to the last page and there was no more, I felt as if I needed to look under the bed for lost pages. That’s how West leaves us. Flying through the book, unable to put it down, worrying about the outcome, and then poof, it’s over.
Here’s a blurb about Godland:
An embittered farmer. A New York corporate raider. Two teenage high school girls. A failed small business owner. Past and present collide, secrets are revealed. These disparate people gather at a desolate Kansas farm for a hellish night not everyone will survive.
Godland is a dark psychological suspense horror thiller. A Midwestern nightmare. Farm noir.