Though I’m sure to upset some authors and publishers who, understandably, want five-star reviews, I’ve my own definition of the five-star system.
*One Star: A crime against God and man.
*Two Stars: Poor, or otherwise not ready for publication.
*Three Stars: A solid work worth the money/read.
*Four Stars: A superior, award-worthy achievement.
*Five Stars: A standard setter, a work to stand the test of time, a work to be studied and read again and again….
This one’s a novel received as a birthday gift from my daughters, and even better, received as a print copy. And what a gorgeous print copy, and with a superb cover, and perfect title.
After all, what can go wrong with bio-hazard symbol, like ever? And with the title, “The Hoard,” again, there’s perfection. Even if only pulpishly so. Such elements have instant appeal for creature feature stories, bug tales, microbe myths, and any kind of test tube, body snatching nasty that invades, infects, perverts, contorts, or mind-jacks its victims.
The work’s predictable, yes, but predictably fun.
Simple enough to get, especially since the entire story is given away with the book’s description:
A new breed…a new evil…
Hidden deep beneath its landfill lair of trash and filth, a strange new organism has come to life. When an accidental fire drives it out, the mysterious creature escapes across the drought-blasted Kansas prairie and finds the home of elderly hoarder Anna Grish. In desperate need of shelter, it burrows in, concealed amidst the squalor and mess.
When Adult Protective Services force Anna to vacate her junk-riddled home, she moves in with her son and his family. But there is something wrong with Anna, something more than her declining mental condition and severe hoarding disorder. Something sinister has taken hold of her, and it’s not only getting stronger, it’s spreading.
Amidst the wide-open Kansas plains, with endless blue sky above and flat, open vista stretching from one horizon to the next, there is nowhere to hide from…THE HOARD.
Again, with the above, one has a synopsis for the entire story. Reading some of the other reviews for this tale, I’d have to disagree with the many compliments about originality, for within “The Hoard,” there’s hardly anything original. One might argue that there isn’t anything original. On the contrary, the entire work plays out as a very predictable script. There’s no surprises, no real jump scares, and no unexpected moments of squeamishness.
And yet the piece still works.
Because, despite its predictability, or maybe, in this particular case, because of it–it’s still
Were there any downsides?
With the editing, I have to tip my hat. There’s less than a handful of “bugs” in the entire book, just a missing word in one spot, and the bad American habit of using UK rules when it comes to comma placement on the outside of quotation marks. But hell, less than five bugs for an entire novel, even a short one, who can complain?
Yes. The work’s predictability. For veteran readers, this will be the biggest drawback. No, it doesn’t make the work unreadable–after all, the story is fun–but it does make it good for only a one-time read.
Is that a failure? No. Not at all. And if it was, if only more authors could fail in like manner.
With “The Hoard,” potential readers need only look at the book’s description. If it appeals, then no problem. No, the reader will not be devouring true pulpish perfection like Harry Adam Knight’s “The Fungus,” and no, they won’t be getting contemporary horror perfection like “Spore,” by Skipp and Goodfellow, but they’ll have a great one-time romp.
In the end, the biggest compliment I can give is that I won’t mind reading another Alan Ryker work.
All my best,
Rob M. Miller
To pick up your own copy of Alan Ryker’s “The Hoard,” click here.
To visit Alan Ryker’s site, click here.