The Jam: Dan Soule
Reviewed By Steve Stred
Back when I was just a little guy, we’re talking 8 or 9, I read my first Stephen King book. I was hooked. Over the next few years, I devoured everything my neighbor had and would lend to me.
One story stood out more than the others – ‘The Mist.’ It wrecked me so much when I was a little kid, that I still have a massive fear of really dense fog.
When this was announced, I initially passed. I didn’t know if I could give this a fair shake, knowing I’d compare it to that story, one that I think about every few days and one that I’ve not been able to bring myself to read ever since.
But, at the same time, Kendall Reviews works really hard to read and support as many authors as KR can, so when it was offered up for review again recently, I said ‘sure.’ I’ve read almost all of Soule’s work previous to this one, so I decided to give it a shot and see where it went.
What I liked: The plot is pretty straightforward to start with. A bunch of seemingly random people are driving on the freeway when suddenly traffic snarls to a stop and nobody is moving.
From here, we learn a bit more about each of the main groups featured; the family with the abusive father, the celebrity, the woman who makes money however she can, etc etc. They band together to help those who’ve been injured in this crash that has stopped traffic, when suddenly a storm arrives and the rain burns.
From here, Soule does a good job of riffing on the expected ‘creatures in the clouds/fog’ idea, and relates it back to some of the characters really well. It was a different take on the typical standard fair from previous entries into these worlds.
What I didn’t like: Soule’s ‘The Ash’ was a stunning book, a book about something randomly occurring and things arriving. I think having read that book before, combined with my love for ‘The Mist’ this one didn’t have the same tension for me personally as his previous releases.
Additionally, the ‘twist’ (apologies I don’t have a better word for this) about what the creatures are related to or are from, didn’t really grab me.
Why you should buy this: The story hums along, the chapters are short and snappy, and the characters give us some intrigue.
Ultimately, I think if this synopsis grabs you and makes you want to read it, I think you’ll be in for a treat. For me, personally, I think my own prejudices towards my love of previous stories similar to this one (including Dan’s own ‘The Ash’) dampened my enjoyment more than I expected.
Overall, a fun story, if not pushing the imagination envelope like Soule typically does.
Traffic can be a real nightmare…
It’s just another day on a busy highway until everything comes to a screeching halt. The jam tails back forever. But there’s no cause for concern, no reason to panic. It’s a traffic jam, that’s all. Everything will get back to normal soon enough.
While people get out of their cars and pass the time with fellow travellers, fourteen-year-old Max sits in the back of his family’s campervan, with a knife hidden in his pocket. Those outside wonder about what’s causing the blockage up ahead. Max worries about why his dad sprung the road trip on them and wishes his mother would do more than stare at her feet. There’s some bitching on the road about being late, others hope no one was hurt. At least, they do until the screaming begins, and then the monster inside Max’s van isn’t the only thing for him to be scared of in The Jam.
A tense and claustrophobic story akin to King’s The Mist and Barker’s A Hellbound Heart, The Jam will take you on a thrilling horror ride where nothing and no one are as they seem.
Steve Stred writes dark, bleak fiction.
Steve is the author of a number of novels, novellas and collections.
He is proud to work with the Ladies of Horror Fiction to facilitate the Annual LOHF Writers Grant.
Steve has appeared alongside some of Horror’s heaviest hitters (Tim Lebbon, Gemma Amor, Adrian J. Walker, Ramsey Campbell) in some fantastic anthologies.
He is an active member of the HWA.
He is based in Edmonton, AB, Canada and lives with his wife and son.
You can follow Steve on Twitter @stevestred
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