Author: Eric Arvin
Publisher: Wilde City Press
Pages/Word Count: 61500 Words
At a Glance: For fans of horror, The Rascal is a must read.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Lana is a faded movie star who lives alone in a big house on a hill that overlooks the sea. She has lived this way since the death of her daughter and the disappearance of her husband.
Jeff and Chloe are a couple who live in a cabin below the big house. It was Chloe’s idea to strengthen their marriage; but she sees now that it isn’t working. Jeff has become obsessed with the cabin and the old water well. Chloe only sees strangeness around her.
One night while talking on the computer with Ethan, Jeff’s brother, a feeling of dread comes to the fore. When Ethan sees a figure behind Chloe, he leaves his boyfriend and baby and sets out to save Jeff.
Chloe, Ethan and Lana come together to fight an evil that would destroy Jeff. Will they succeed or will all of them fall to the taste of a young cannibalistic ghost?
Review: As you would do with any review, bringing your personal preferences into account, I’m going to start out by asking you to take into consideration that when other girls were reading Forever and Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, I was under the covers and sleeping with the lights on, reading The Exorcist and The Amityville Horror and every single Stephen King book I could get my hands on while watching movies like The Other and The Omen on late-night television. In other words, the horror fiction genre has been a staple of my avaricious reading habits almost from the time I started devouring chapter books. So when I say Eric Arvin’s The Rascal is a brilliant book, it comes from the perspective of someone who is perhaps a little more demanding in what constitutes a chilling mindfreak of a horror story. The kind of story that when the writing leaves off, the imagination takes over, which is all the fun of reading horror.
The Rascal, in fact, reminds me a lot of the earlier days of Stephen King: Salem’s Lot, The Shining, Pet Sematary, The Dead Zone. Arvin offers us, from the outset of this novel, a macabre glimpse of what’s to come, then eases back, eases us into a placid sense of menace. Do you remember the scene in It, when the little boy is sailing his paper boat in the rain swollen gutter? It’s this innocence juxtaposed with the utter certainty that evil isn’t far away which informs every great horror novel—it’s the loss of innocence that terrifies us. Not even youthful innocence lost, specifically, but the absolute stripping away of everything that means safety and security to us. The Rascal is a book that takes any shred of hope we may have for its characters and grinds it under its heel.
There is a certain foreboding wrapped up in the rather uneventful, small town of Wicker when we visit with Jeff and Chloe Cane, the place they intend to make their new home, to try to craft a new beginning from the wreckage of their marriage. Wicker is much like any little burg on the map—insular, friendly on its surface. But deep down, you know there are secrets… With names like Bad Luck Hill and No Hope Creek, we know the calm idyll is nothing more than an illusion and that the danger is only going to grow as the story progresses.
The little cottage on Bad Luck Hill is the place that should signal a fresh start but quickly becomes a harbinger of ill omen. It’s the place where peace and hope are nothing but dead and bloated corpses, suffocated by dread and misery. It’s the place that can make even the most jaded cry out to a god they don’t believe in. This is where we find Jeff and Chloe and the former actress, Lana Pruitt, who sold them the little cottage situated between the deadly cliffs and the dark woods—even knowing there was a resident evil lurking there.
If you’ve ever read Woke Up In a Strange Place, The Mingled Destinies of Crocodiles and Men, or Wave Goodbye to Charlie, you’ll know the hallmark of Eric Arvin’s writing is his ability to turn a phrase just so, so that you suddenly see everything you thought you knew from a different angle. “Possession is nine-tenths of the law” – it does not mean what you think it means. For Jeff and Chloe, who are adventure tour guides, it’s the greatest irony that Death is the one journey for which they could never have prepared. Life is the one adventure they may not survive.
In the end, when love has been tested, faith has been broken, hatred has been simmering so close to the surface that one need only stare into the abyss to see that misery stares back, it’s how much one is willing to sacrifice for the sake of an estranged husband, and, for Ethan, an estranged brother, which brings this story’s evil to its conclusion. I love this book. I yelled at it, cursed at it, I shuddered at every single visual Arvin paints into an atmosphere that’s permeated by dread. There are things that go bump in the night. Then there are things that want you to suffer unimaginable horrors. That’s the rascal. He is the symbol of lost innocence, of evil, of insanity, of retribution. The rascal wants his pound of flesh in a most literal and chilling way.
And Eric Arvin delivers.
The Rascal is available for purchase here (watch for other e-tailer purchase links soon):
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