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Friday Night Massacre by Michael Patrick Hicks

Welcome to Rick’s Read-Along. A new series presented by Horror Oasis where I visit an author’s back catalogue and encourage you, the reader, to read along with me.  I will publish my thoughts on each book every two weeks, while also announcing the next book I’ll be reading. Every author selected will be someone whose back catalogue is readily available and is somebody we feel our readers will enjoy discovering along with us. I hope that you’ll all join me in sharing your thoughts.

In this latest instalment, I have selected four horror books from the back catalogue of prolific genre author, Michael Patrick Hicks. Michael has written extensively in the horror and sci-fi genres, most notably the Salem Hawley series (including ‘The Resurrectionists’ and ‘Borne of the Deep’) and his latest horror novel, ‘Friday Night Massacre’, a grindhouse inspired splatterpunk action novel which features the President of the United States making a deal with the devil, with disastrous consequences. Michael was an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Finalist for Science Fiction in 2013 for his debut novel, ‘Convergence’ and also co-hosts the horror-centric podcast ‘Staring Into The Abyss’. Visit his website at www.michaelpatrickhicks.com

Friday Night Massacre book cover

A warning for readers who are joining in with the read-along, some of the books selected (specifically ‘Mass Hysteria’ and ‘Friday Night Massacre’) contain scenes of extreme horror, some of which is sexual in nature. I would urge anyone who may be triggered by such content to take this into consideration before picking up these books. 

As these articles are intended to encourage people to read these books along with me there will obviously be spoilers ahead, although I will strive to keep them minor and avoid spoiling major reveals or twists along the way for those who haven’t read it yet.

We are closing out this dg into Michael Patrick Hicks’ back catalogue with, by far, his most fun novel to date. ‘Friday Night Massacre’ takes the concept of ‘What if the President of the United States made a deal with the devil’ and turns it into a balls to the wall action epic, throwing in some searing political commentary into the mix alongside plenty of 80s inspired gooey horror. The Amazon description describes the book as ‘Night of the Demons meets Olympus has Fallen’, which pretty much nails exactly what you should expect going in.

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The book opens with the completely fictional, not at all based on a real person, President during the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. The President (who, I can’t stress enough, is not at all based on any real life President) has contracted Covid after very publicly declaring the virus ‘a hoax perpetuated by the liberal media’. As it turns out, the hoax ends up being fatal as the President passes away in the White House, surrounded by his family, in the opening chapter.

Before coming back to life. 

From then on, the book switches constantly between an Evil Dead style assault of horror excess, with all the requisite disembowelling and decapitations you’d expect from such a comparison, and a taut, fast paced action thriller, depending on who the focus is on. Both elements work well, and mesh together nicely, keeping the forward momentum going without leaning too far in either direction.  

This is the second book by Michael Patrick Hicks that comes with a content warning for extreme content and, much like ‘Mass Hysteria’, it’s no hyperbole. If you read the former, you’ll have an idea of what you’re in for. The big difference is in tone because where ‘Mass Hysteria’ took a big concept, took it to its extreme, but otherwise played things fairly straight, ‘Friday Night Massacre’ is going for shock value to enhance the dark humour that runs throughout. The best example of the undercurrent of satire that saturates the whole novel isn’t found in the novel itself, but rather the first line of the content warnings at the back (Trumpism). The message may be a bit heavy handed at times, but then subtlety would probably feel out of place in a novel about a demon invasion on the White House anyway. 

It’s best not to get too attached to any of the characters. Not all of them last particularly long once all hell breaks loose, but the closest we get to recurring antagonists are Hutchinson, Collette and Iglesias. All three are secret service agents that are stationed at the White House when things go south. The trio gave me major ‘Aliens’ vibes (Hicks, Ripley and Vasquez respectively). They don’t get the same level of development and backstory that Hicks characters often do in his other work, but the focus is more on spectacle and you can see why these things largely get left out if it is in sacrifice to the overall pacing when there is so much going on. I am ashamed to say though, that these leads have the spotlight well and truly stolen anyway, by President Trump Coleridge. He is such a caricature of a completely reprehensible, evil villain that he is a ton of fun whenever he’s on the page and you’ll find yourself constantly wondering just how much more outrageous his words and actions can get. Thinking back to my favourite moments, there wasn’t a single one that didn’t revolve around him.

The ending come up a little abruptly but it is, overall, a satisfying and suitably nihilistic one. ‘Friday Night Massacre’ may not be everyone’s cup of tea (looking at you Trump supporters) but if you’re in the market for a full on entertainment experience with the horror dial set to ‘bananas’ then this will be one you won’t be able to put down.

We started the read along with an apocalyptic man versus nature epic (‘Mass Hysteria’), moved onto a claustrophobic creature feature (‘Broken Shells’) and a historical cosmic horror (‘The Resurrectionists’) before closing on an action-packed comedy horror starring the President of the United States. You can hardly accuse Hicks of denying us readers a bit of variety! If you’ve enjoyed this selection, there are plenty more books of his you can seek out. I mentioned the sequel to the Resurrectionists (‘Borne of the Deep’) in my previous write-up, and we didn’t touch on any of Hicks’ sci-fi work (‘Convergence’, ‘Emergence’). I’d also highly recommend his sci-fi horror novella ‘Black Site’ if you’re a fan of ‘Alien’ and would have loved to have included his harrowing short story ‘Revolver’ in this series if I could have fit it in. I hope that you’ll seek some of these out if you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read so far.

That about wraps up our Michael Patrick Hicks read along. Please join me back here in 2 weeks, when we will be kicking off a two month long look back at the back catalogue of Mark Allen Gunnells, starting with ‘Deviations From the Norm’. If Vampires, time machines and deals with the devil sound like your kinda book I hope you’ll read along with us!

Richard Martin

Richard Martin

Reviewer

Richard Martin started reading horror books at a young age, starting with R L Stine’s ‘Goosebumps’ and ‘Point Horror’ series. He traumatized himself at the age of twelve when he read Stephen King’s ‘IT’, and never looked back. He is currently based in the UK, where he lives with his partner and an inappropriate amount of books. 

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