It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a book and there’s no better author to discuss than Bryan Hall and the latest installment in his Southern Hauntings Saga from Angelic Knight Press, The Lurker. I was eagerly anticipating this release and had high expectations for it based on the previous books in the series, The Vagrant and The Girl. Needless to say, Hall doesn’t disappoint and delivers a creepy, surprising story.
The story takes place in the fictional town of Sutton’s Mill, but Hall describes the town with such precise detail that it feels real. It appears in your mind much like any small, rural town you may have lived in or visited or even just drove through without giving it a second thought. And his descriptions of natural landscapes are equally impressive, bringing every tree, shrub, rock, and blade of grass alive. These descriptions allow Hall to ground a supernatural element in the real world and make it believable. If he would have glossed over these areas, the story would have felt two-dimensional and forced onto the page rather than taking place right in your back yard.
Hall also creates three-dimensional characters with real flaws, problems, and tragedies. In my opinion, this is one of Hall’s strongest points as a writer. The reader can both sympathize and empathize with the characters, and that is quite a feat to accomplish given the length of the work and the limited amount of space available to bring these characters to life. Hall is also not afraid to delve into the darker, more tragic aspects of life such as loss, abandonment, and death. Anyone who has experienced these issues can not only relate but also become emotionally invested in the characters. One of the most poignant examples of Hall’s character development is Crate Northgate’s inability or uncomfortableness when it comes to comforting someone for their loss. He may come off as cold, distant, and unsympathetic, but his reaction is a real one. Another example is Tucker Cook’s statement that people’s actions do little to support or comfort; they just make them feel like they did a good deed. There’s a cold, hard truth to that fact, one which few people are willing to acknowledge.
Without giving too much away, I must say that the ending of The Lurker was definitely not one I was expecting; it is shocking, creepy, and tragic. It also shows Hall’s growth as a writer. While The Girl is an exceptional and heart-wrenching story, the ending was somewhat predictable. With The Lurker, however, Hall has definitely managed to raise the bar.
The only complaint about The Lurker is the feeling of a rushed resolution to the story. Hall writes an exceptional beginning and ending of the book. But, when it comes time to solve the mystery, it happens too easily. I would like to see Crate struggle more to figure things out rather than have the answer fall in his lap.
Bryan Hall is one of the most impressive up-and-coming writers in my opinion. I say “up-and-coming” because he has the potential to be huge one day. As a writer myself, Hall impresses and inspires me with his use of subtle horror (ability to creep out rather than gross out), his creation of strong, believable characters, and his straight-forward, descriptive prose which has flashes of beauty and genius. As a reader, I’m definitely hooked on the Southern Hauntings Saga and can’t wait for the next release.
Bryan Hall’s Website
Buy The Lurker (Southern Hauntings Saga) by Bryan Hall