cover image Will Haunt You

Will Haunt You

Brian Kirk. Flame Tree, $24.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-78758-138-8

Kirk’s suspenseful and terror-driven novel employs supernatural elements to capitalize on the dread and horror of reality. Jesse Wheeler is an aging guitarist who once played for the now-dissolved heavy metal group the Rising Dead. One night, he and his wife, Cassie, both passed out drunk and didn’t wake up when their infant son, Rox, fell out of his crib. The boy was permanently brain-damaged; consumed by regret, Jesse and Cassie have spent seven years struggling to stay sober. After the band comes back together for an unmemorable reunion concert, Jesse is sucked into a horrendous new reality brought on by reading an unholy book. Battling the demons of his past and the uncertainty of his future, Jesse realizes he has entered his very own personal hell. Kirk spares the reader no gory detail, but the fourth-wall breaks detract from the immediacy of Jesse’s struggle and muddle what would otherwise be an incredibly rich tale of self-destruction and redemption. Kirk does capture the depth and breadth of human emotion, and this is where his work truly shines. Jesse’s guilt and his quest to do right by his son are gut-wrenching. While Kirk’s tone sometimes misses the mark, his handling of visceral horror and human drama make for an immersive tale. (Mar.)