cover image In the Shadows of Men

In the Shadows of Men

Robert Jackson Bennett. Subterranean, $40 (120p) ISBN 978-1-59606-987-9

The devil’s in the details in this eerie novella from Bennett (Shorefall), which pulls successful scares from familiar horror tropes. The Pugh brothers are in dire personal territory—one, the unnamed narrator, is about to finalize his divorce; the other, Bear, struggles with addiction—and they are determined to make their fortunes by resurrecting an old hotel in a West Texas oil boomtown once owned by Corbin Pugh, a distant uncle. But the more they learn about Corbin and the hotel’s past as a brothel, the more the encounters they have within the hotel’s walls grow bizarre, grotesque, and dangerous. Meanwhile, a local girl goes missing and a lingering darkness manifests within both brothers. Bennett puts a nice twist on legacy horror tropes as it becomes clear that the brothers’ susceptibility to evil is less about their family’s past and more about their present demons. Though the plot is formulaic and won’t surprise horror veterans, Bennett still keeps readers jumping at shadows with nail-biting writing. Anyone looking for a quick fright will want to check this out. (Sept.)