I had seen a lot of hype for WILL HAUNT YOU by Brian Kirk prior to its release so when it came out, I grabbed it right away and dug in. The reviews I’ve seen were not as good as the hype, but I honestly don’t get that at all. I loved this book. The feel, the tone, not knowing what was happening the entire time, for me, it all worked perfectly.
I’m a huge fan of Brian Evenson and the whole time I was reading this, it had the feel of something written by Evenson: very weird, very strange, and very good.
I’ve seen comparisons also to House of Leaves another one of my favorites of all time. And while I don’t understand the comparisons between the content of the two books, I do see the similarities in that both books can be polarizing because it seems most people either love them or hate them.
WILL HAUNT YOU is the story of Jesse Wheeler, a recovering alcoholic reliving his glory days by playing a reunion show with his former metal band The Rising Dead. One of Jesse’s band mates tells him to read a haunted/cursed/deadly book that has been passed around through word of mouth. Jesse reads the book and that’s when things get weird.
And when I say weird, I mean really weird. I would be doing the book a disservice if I tried to explain just how weird it gets. Jesse is forced to live through things that could only be described as his own personal horrors. He spends time in the brain of his injured son, relapses and gets black out drunk at his old watering hole, cheats on his wife, and reveals a deep dark secret to her that he’d never thought he would ever tell anyone.
Along with all of the weird, there is a tremendous amount of introspection by the protagonist and narrator. The character on the whole is written very well. By the end of the book I felt as though I knew what Jesse’s reaction to certain events was going to be before I read it, which to me says that the character is well written and deep enough for the reader to understand fully.
There are poetic paragraphs and a few tense shifts and but they are masterfully written into the narrative in a way that is unsettling but also does not interrupt the story and keeps the weird vibe growing and the story changing, evolving and building in intensity.
The action scenes are just as solidly written as the introspective ones and they are weaved into the story to keep it progressing forward at a quick pace while also giving us enough information about the all of the characters to keep us interested.
If there is something disappointing about the novel (if you can call it that) it’s that I did not get enough of Caspian, the lead singer of the band of aging metal heads. He is ever present in the first few chapters and not heard from much after that but he is at least as well written as Jesse and he seemed to be a the kind of character that is a lot of fun to write.
Don’t be fooled by the mixed reviews of WILL HAUNT YOU.
This book is good. This book is weird and this book will scare you.
It will leave you thinking about it long after you’ve finished reading it and the characters will stick with you after like you’ve known them for years. This was my first Brian Kirk book, but it won’t be my last. It’s really hard to get a strong 5/5 out of me because I can be picky, but this book does it for me.
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