A book review by Erica Robyn
Do you enjoy bizarro horror with some seriously creepy elements tied into heartwarming coming-of-age stories? If so, pick up Halloween Land by Kevin J. Kennedy today!
Kevin J. Kennedy is an author from Scotland that has published various drabble and short story collections and has partnered up with other authors to write novellas. But now, he has published his first solo novella titled Halloween Land.
If this title sounds familiar, you may have seen the short story appear in Collected Halloween Horror Shorts: Trick ‘R Treat, back in 2017. In this novella, while we get to see the same scenes that we had visited before, this time there is so much more!
When Zak and Wendy first see fliers advertising a traveling carnival that will be coming to town, the two teenagers that have been best friends their whole lives cannot wait to attend. And to make things even more exciting, it’s a carnival called Halloween Land that is coming to town on Halloween!
The two teenagers carefully navigate the wait, making sure they don’t get grounded before the big day. They can’t help but look forward to the carnival, even though the pier is still totally empty with no signs that an event will actually be happening there.
Before they know it, the big day is here and they’ve heard reports that the carnival is all set up! The two are both antsy to see it for themselves, so they take off early to see what the day will hold. There seems to be a bit of magic in the air this Halloween. They’re not sure when it happened, but something has changed between them, and they are both hoping that tonight will change their relationship.
The carnival will indeed change them, but will it be for better or for worse?
On the pier, the carnival is everything they were hoping it would be! The two partake in carnival games, jump on rides, and eat lots of carnival food over the course of the day. As the daylight slips away into nighttime, the two feel that the carnival has changed a bit, but they can’t put a finger on the reason why. Before they call it a night and head home, they just want to visit one last attraction… The Funhouse. They had been saving this one for last to end the night with a bang.
But from there, I will leave the magic and the horror for you to discover.
This is a five-star read for me! I am a total sucker for any horror story that is set in an amusement park or circus, and this one was a homerun. It is wonderfully written and has some amazing characters.
I loved the overall spooky plot, and many of the scenes at the carnival sent a chill up my spine. There is lots of action included that is so vividly written, it’s like watching a horror movie play out on screen. And as for the coming-of-age element, this is a key part of the story without being too cheesy. It’s really heartwarming and fun to see the two main characters navigate their feelings for one another over time as life hands them various obstacles to overcome.
While reading, I was very anxious to see how things would turn out, but I also didn’t want it to end! This is a novella that I will definitely be returning to time and time again.
Before I wrap this up, I just wanted to give a quick shoutout to François Vaillancourt who designed the cover. How beautiful and creepy is the cover?! I love the colors that are used and the title text and graphic behind it are certainly eye-catching! I cannot wait to see it in print as soon as I can get my hands on a physical copy.