Kind Nepenthe – Matthew V. Brockmeyer
Reviewed By Aiden Merchant
“Rebecca thought she’d find a hippie paradise when she moved to the desolate back hills of Humboldt County. A place to commune with nature and teach her five-year-old daughter how to live off the land. Instead she discovered a nightmare.”
Kind Nepenthe isn’t an outright horror novel, despite its haunting of the hills. Rather, much of its story is a gritty drama in the vein of Elmore Leonard and Don Winslow (i.e. crime-fused). Your characters and their lives are the focus here, and therein lies the (dark) charm of Kind Nepenthe.
A good chunk of the novel comes in its introductions to the various characters in play. Eventually, their disjointed lives will come together in an explosive way; but as wonderful as that conclusion is, the ride is just as special and engrossing. Each storyline is given its time and attention, rather than have the weight fall on one to carry the others. You get to know each character, and even care about them (despite some obvious flaws). This makes it all the more devastating when everything collides.
The way it all comes together is ultimately glorious, albeit horrific. I loved the Shining vibes I was given, whether they were intentional or not. And although this story is quite bleak (in true Brockmeyer fashion), the brutality of the endings (yes, plural -remember, you have several storylines followed here) are fitting and exceptional. Prepare for grief. Prepare for violence. Lives definitely shatter here.
Under Rotting Sky was my first taste of Brockmeyer’s dark magic. Kind Nepenthe has now proven to me that he can do a full-length story just as well as his amazing shorts. By the time Kind Nepenthe had come to an end, I was in awe. This is a crushing novel that will leave you as haunted as Homicide Hill.
Rebecca thought she’d find a hippie paradise when she moved to the desolate back hills of Humboldt County. A place to commune with nature and teach her five-year-old daughter how to live off the land. Instead, she discovered a nightmare.
Coyote is a washed-up pot grower. Strung out on pills and dealing with dropping prices and looming legalization, he wonders if it’s even worth it anymore.
Diesel Dan abandoned his son for a life of methamphetamine and prison. Now he wants to make amends. He’s going to be a grandfather. But his son is on the same dark road of drugs and violence that once consumed him.
These characters will come together in an explosive ending that will leave you stunned and breathless. But more than just a gripping horror novel, Kind Nepenthe is a deep examination into the nature of love and greed, lost ideals, and the essence of evil in one of the last frontiers of the American West.
Aiden Merchant is an independent author of horror, suspense, science fiction, and whatever else crawls out of his head. In 2019, he appeared in the writing community with the release of two story collections, Dead as Soon as Born and Kill for Them. In the months that surrounded those debuts, he also made several singles and website exclusives available, including “Out at Sea” and “Nummy Fingers.” He has been praised by readers and writers alike as having a diverse range in style and genre. Under his real name, Merchant has more than a decade of experience in music journalism, having regularly appeared in Alternative Press, Outburn Magazine, New Noise Magazine, and more. He is also a certified nursing assistant, husband, and father. In 2020, he looks to find a publisher and agent for the various projects he has in the pipeline.
Dead As Soon As Born
There is evil inside us all, and no one lives forever.
In this debut collection of short stories from Aiden Merchant, you will bear witness to murderers, monsters, and other horrors.