A book review by Janine Pipe

Sometimes you can really build something up and look forward to it so much, it can’t be anything other than a let-down. To say I had been stalking the Flame Tree Press tweets just waiting for news of Glenn Rolfe’s latest release August’s Eyes is sadly not an exaggeration. Once I had the nod, I accessed my Net Galley account which had stood dormant since my last FTP digital request. I had banned myself from any more ARCS as I couldn’t be trusted not to be lured in by all the shiny covers.

For Glenn though, I could make an exception. It was downloaded onto my Kindle at around 3pm and by lunch the following day, I was done. I was actually angry that I had to adult and also sleep in between. So yeah, you’ve likely worked out from that alone that it was in no way, shape or form any sort of a let-down.

Glenn is my favourite writer.

*mic drop*

Wait a second.

What, WHAT? I hear you say. You have never said that before!!!

Well …

But why, why is he my favourite? First of all, have you read any of his work? Glenn takes words and makes them come to life. His characters are people you know. Well obviously, they’re not, but he makes them feel like you already know them, and they are people that live on your street.

Take John and Sarah for example. An ordinary married couple living an ordinary life except for one major issue that seemingly rules their life – they have so far been unable to have children. Now this part of the story was hard. As a mother, it hit me with the feels and I needed to hug my kid a couple of times. But it drove the plot forward and gave depth and gravitas to the characters. When you feel low and shitty and your heart is breaking, you are susceptible to stupid choices and mistakes. And mistakes are made. Dependent on your own life experiences, you may side with one or other of them here, but they both are as Rag ‘n’ Bone Man says ‘only human after all …’.

Then there was Patrick, the teen who was friendly with John and Sarah and carried a lot of those young shoulders. He was my favourite character and I wonder how much of Glenn was in him. A fair bit I would say from what I know, hairstyle and taste in music just for starters. Patrick was who I was rooting for the entire time. Once we met Caswell, you knew it was going to go one of two ways. I won’t spoil anything; you’ll have to read it to find out which way it went and whether I was mad or not. I do get mad about characters I like. Just ask Tim Meyer …

Every tale of good versus evil needs a baddie and we have that in spades with the Caswells. Now, both of these dudes were created to be the antagonists. Because of their abhorrent acts and predilections, they were not the kind of villains you could root for as they were utterly vile. Even with the supernatural elements which of course keeps this firmly in the horror genre rather than strictly a dark thriller, there were certain aspects that reminded me of Dennis Lehane and specifically the bad guys in Gone baby Gone. Now this is likely because of the paedophile connection or maybe it is no coincidence that Glenn is my favourite indie horror writer and Lehane is my favourite non-horror writer … add in the New England elements and you can see similarities. Thankfully these disgusting waste of space excuses for humans get their comeuppance – no spoilers, no spoilers!!!

Of course, we also have the titular characters August and One Eye, the boys from John’s dreams. Their tales were tragic, and Glenn almost got me a couple of times because I freaking HATE spiders … the parts with these figures were the more traditional horror side of the narrative that long-time fans of Glenn will recognize and they were written and fleshed out perfectly. There are some genuinely creepy moments where realities start to blur …

I am also a sucker for pop culture references and Easter Eggs/homages. Some people might think name-checks and stuff is cheesy, I saw a few names I recognized like Old Man Keisling from Devil’s Creek Lane and did a happy little woop! A virtual High Five. I love that and the bands, songs, movies – bring it. It makes it more subversive in my opinion. Hell, the 80s and 90s are my decades, anytime I can get nostalgic, I am in.

Overall as you can likely tell, I loved this book. It is very different from even Until Summer Comes Around, Glenn’s previous Flame Tree Press release, but who says we are meant to churn out the same book just with different characters over and over. If you have read The Window and/or The Haunted Halls and are expecting gore-filled, sexually explicit and charged violence well, that isn’t what we get here. But if alongside the splatter, you loved James and Rocky and Joe because of Glenn’s character-driven narrative and if you dug the supernatural and mystery element of Abram’s Bridge, you too will enjoy August’s Eyes just as much as I did.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Author

Glenn Rolfe is a huge fan of hair metal, Bruce Springsteen, and Taylor Swift (no shame in this game). A husband, a father of three, and a proud hospitality worker. He’s been watching horror movies since before he should, and will devour all King, Laymon, Keene, and Malfi books. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Reviewer

Trading in a police badge and then classroom, Janine now writes full-time whilst also being a mum, wife and Disney addict. Influenced by the works of King from a young age, she likes to shock readers with violence and scare them with monsters – both mythical and man-made. When she’s not killing people off, she likes to chew the fat with other authors – reviewing books and conducting interviews for her podcast and YouTube channel. You can follow Janine Pipe on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Amazon, Podcast and Youtube.
More articles by Janine Pipe
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The Descent (2005)

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