The Festering Ones: S.H. Cooper
Reviewed By Aiden Merchant
KR: Please be aware there are small spoilers in this review
As a young girl, Faith witnessed the taking of her father by a spider-like woman into the ground. Twenty years later, she returns home following the death of her estranged mother and discovers unfinished studies of a cult called The Gathered. They seek to open a doorway, one that will reveal their monstrous god to the world. As for the spider-woman, there’s more than one, and they are protectors of sorts. For Faith, everything leads back to White Crow Mountain…
The beginning of this story hooked me with ease. I really loved the sequence in which Faith loses her father – the imagery of a spider-woman rising up from a trap immediately injected itself into my veins – and I loved the idea of Faith coming home many years later to discover she was never actually alone in believing the monstrosity she’d seen as a child.
The excitement of the story does falter at times, unfortunately. The “side quest” to Florida feels a bit forced, and the addition of the third woman in that Act certainly doesn’t help. However, the mythology behind the Gathered and their monstrous deity is strong enough that their inclusion should have been multiplied. It was unfortunate that the spider daughters were so easily dispelled, seeing as they were the driving force for me in the beginning. Those battles were quickly won, as if we were supposed to just get them over with to reach a large conclusion. Instead, the ending feels unfinished, abrupt and lacking. When all is said and done, it would appear that the only real danger came in the hush-hush Floridian town in which a few “survivors” were insane.
Despite its flaws, The Festering Ones shows a lot of promise. I really hope Cooper decides to develop upon this world she’s introduced here, because a full epic could be extremely satisfying.
The Festering Ones
A monster lurking in the mountain.
A mysterious cult seeking a doorway.
An otherworldly evil waiting to be unleashed.
Faith York was a young girl when she saw her father dragged into the ground by a spider-armed woman, never to be seen again. Twenty years later, the events of that day continue to haunt her, and her need for answers has only grown stronger with time. After her estranged mother’s death forces her to return home, old wounds are reopened and Faith finally decides to face her demons. What started as a search for closure soon pits her against a shadowy cult known as The Gathered and the eldritch beings they worship. With reality becoming more blurred by the day and the thousand eyes of an alien deity fixed on her, Faith must decide if the dark secrets of White Crow Mountain are really worth losing herself over.
Aiden Merchant is an independent author of horror, suspense, science fiction, and more. Under another alias, he got his start as a critic for such music magazines as Alternative Press (AP), American Music Press (AMP), and Outburn Magazine. He currently has two story collections available — Dead As Soon As Born and Kill for Them — and has big plans for 2020. He is married, a father of one, and living in the Appalachian Mountains.
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.