Wednesday, November 6, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Slipway Grey by Mark C. Scioneaux and Dane T. Hatchell

As blood stains the sugar white sands of Pensacola Beach, mysterious disappearances plague the area. But this doesn't stop a group of high school seniors from having one last blowout at an exclusive beach mansion before graduation. But Mandy, the party's host, has plans of her own. 

With a special friend, a massive bull shark she befriended as a child, Mandy plans to work through her teen angst the only way she knows how: with the help of massive jaws and an insatiable appetite for human flesh! 


I’m a sucker for “throwback” films that remind me of an entire decade. Since horror films are made quite differently now than the ones I used to watch while growing up, I am lucky to find books that can capture the essence of the type of horror fiction that helped define what I understand as horror. I’ve had the pleasure of reading several novels in this “throwback-horror” genre, and I have to say that Slipway Grey is one of my favorites.

The book involves a shark. Teenagers (and a bunch of other people) die gruesomely. Beer and breasts are all over the place. The plot is just as plausible as anything you’d find in a B-movie. How can this book be any good? I felt like I was watching a movie rather than reading a book. The characters’ sexuality seems to ooze from the pages, and I enjoyed the role the shark played in the novel; this is hardly “Jaws.” This is a horror story, and it can’t be transformed into a theme-park ride. Think about all the horror stories that include a bunch of kids going to a secluded vacation spot, and throw a shark into the mix WITH a cold-blooded killer with serious issues, and you’ve got the recipe for an original story. 

I fell in love with the story’s premise, because the murderer was well-characterized and interesting; the psychological element that plays an integral part of a good horror story is present, and it’s worth mentioning. There is character development, something that is typically missing from the horror-film style this book seems to have been inspired by. There were moments when I found myself sympathizing and pitying Mandy, the femme-fatale whom this story focuses on.

The authors kept the story fresh by skipping backward in time on a few occasions; I understand this might frustrate one or two readers, but I needed a break from the hormonal boys to get inside Mandy’s head and learn about her motives and methods. In many ways, she seemed to be a metaphor for the shark; a beautiful creature that can be amicable, but can easily switch into the mindset of a bloodthirsty hunter. 

I didn’t expect to get anything more from this book than blood and sex; I would have been happy just to read a story about a shark that kills a bunch of people who’re stuck in the middle of the ocean somewhere. Readers who habitually pick of Nora Roberts and James Patterson aren’t interested in anything different than what they’ve read before. I wanted to be entertained, and I was pleasantly surprised.  In throwback horror, you’re interested in the kill-count in the quality of the kills, and the authors satisfied my expectations; Hatchell and Scioneaux combined their talents to provide a story that doesn’t grow stale after the first three chapters. After all, haven’t we seen all these movies before? No… not this one…