Welcome to Morganville, NC. A quaint, quiet little town. A nice place for a troubled family to gain a fresh start. Or is it? Just forget about the 66 children that died in the fire….
James Newman’s The Wicked is a fast-paced horror novel about a family facing the above situation and the soul-crushing encounters with evil that they face. The Little’s (David, his wife pregnant wife Kate, and daughter Becca) move to the small town after Kate was raped by a black man. The night before, David and Kate bumped uglies and she is pregnant. David is seriously stressed about who the baby daddy is and has some serious trepidations about the pregnancy. Kate’s Christian faith leads her to believe that David is the father, and he goes along with his wife’s wishes to keep the kid. Meanwhile, an ancient evil being named Moloch has been summoned in Morganville, and David is forced to do battle with him and possessed townspeople that ends in a dance of bullets, blood, fire, and death!
I bought the new trade paperback version put out by Shock Totem press last Monday after reading JP Thorn’s review of it, and I must say I did not regret this decision. Shock Totem really did a great job with this book, making it look as vintage as possible. Newman envisioned the novel as a throw-back to the 80’s type paperback books and their presentation helps sell the reader on this vision. I ordered the book through Amazon Monday night, and was told the receiving date would be on Friday. and I received it on Wednesday afternoon. Also, there is a printing date on the book which reveals it was fresh off the presses on the purchase date of June 25th. Shock Totem utilizes the business principle of “under-promise and over-deliver” in that regard, and I applaud them for it.
Back to the 80’s horror vibe it’s going for here: personally, reading it I wouldn’t have thought of it as an 80’s horror type book, but I would say that it is a very fun read. Looking at the book, I thought the villain Moloch was going to be a more principle figure in the story, but he’s not. He’s on the periphery of the story, always just out of the corner of the character’s eye and his mystique is enhanced due to this. At first I was dissapointed by this, but as I kept reading and took on the story for what it was versus what I thought, the more I enjoyed it.
It also seems to take itself seriously while presenting some seriously messed up situations that are also pretty funny in a sick way. I liked that the book respected the reader and the genre enough to have fun with the situations but not at the expense of making the reader feel like they, and their beloved genre were being made fun of.
The only real criticism I have is that the book seems a bit unevenly paced. Quite a bit of time is spent with David watching old re-runs of old shows on TV while fucked up shit is going around all around him. It seems like he was a bit stunted in some cases, especially towards the end when he lets his wife give their child another bath after what happens the first time. But then the shit really hits the fan and I had my headphones on listening to Metallica’s “Kill ’em All” album and it was epic!
It’s not the best thing you’ll ever read, but it’s not trying to be either. It’s a fun and violent thrill-ride meant to kill a few hours and tickle your sick side in the process. It’s tropes are familiar but it’s plot is never derivative of other things. It usually takes me a while to finish a book because I’ll get bored and put it down for a long while before picking it back up again. I finished The Wicked in a week. That’s about the highest praise I can give it. It didn’t bore me and kept me wanting to keep reading.
Newman may be a Tar Heel fan, but don’t let that stop you from picking this book up! It’s a sexy eye-catching paperback that you will enjoy reading and looking at every time you eye your bookshelf.