Delicatessen meets Twin Peaks

Cade McCall is stuck in a go-nowhere job as an assistant manager at a local catering company. With a thankless job and a nightmare of a boss, he’s keen to branch out on his own. He gets the opportunity that he’s been waiting for when he receives a mysterious phone call from a man calling himself Mr Dinosaur. He claims to be part of an extreme food club who wish to hire him for a small but exclusive dining experience. The pay is more than Cade could turn down, and more than enough to start his own catering firm, but he soon wishes he had never accepted.

When Mr Dinosaur reveals himself to be something more than human, and Cade finds himself embroiled in a terrifying waking nightmare, haunted by the dead and unwittingly part of a biker cults terrible rituals, he must find a way out of the deal he has made before both he and the world suffer a fate beyond imagining. 

This latest cosmic horror novella from Kyle Winker is a book that defies description. What starts out as a seemingly straightforward tale of a down on his luck employee joining a sinister club of elites soon descends into a surreal, blackly comedic and dream-like series of unsettling events that would feel right at home in a Lars Von Trier movie. If you’re looking for a book with a straightforward story to tell, turn away now. If, however, you’re in the mood for something a little more challenging, where every turn of the page is a new and disturbing surprise, and literally anything could happen next, then ‘The Nothing That Is’ is the book for you.

Cosmic horror is a broad definition that may give you some idea of what this book is about, but if so, it is cosmic horror by way of David Lynch. There are haunted wingback chairs, talking raccoons, exploding graveyards and an all-female nihilistic biker gang. Suffice to say, things get weird. By the mid-way point, any semblance of normality has gone out the window but the book is no less gripping for its wild unpredictability. Part of the reason is thanks to Cabe, who is such a relatable character. He is likeable but flawed, and you can’t help but project yourself onto him whilst reading, and get swept up along in the insanity alongside him.

If the above description gets across that ‘The Nothing That Is’ is a funny book, it is. Its pitch-black comedy and grand scale combine together wonderfully, but there is more to it. It is also an incredibly disturbing book, and oddly grounded and character-driven at times. Even when things get to the world-ending, incomprehensible cosmic terror stage past the midway point, when Cabe has lost all control and understanding of the situation he has gotten himself into, there are still scenes where he’s worrying about money, or the woman he likes, or getting up for work the next day. It’s a tough balance to pull off, but it works wonderfully. 

‘The Nothing That Is’ will not be a book to suit all tastes. Answers are not always forthcoming, and what answers we do get may have no grounding in reality, but one of the joys of the book is its unbridled creativity and punk rock, anything goes attitude. It is impressive to read a book that achieves so much in such a short page count. It is genuinely disturbing, getting under your skin effortlessly with its nightmarish imagery, whilst simultaneously being darkly funny and a slice-of-life style story that never loses sight of how the lead character is experiencing the bizarre events happening around him. Closing out my review, I still don’t feel as if I’ve done the book justice, so I can only urge you to pick up a copy, strap yourself in and experience the ride for yourself!

Richard Martin

Richard Martin


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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