The Storm: Paul Kane
Reviewed By Ben Walker
Bad weather gets an equally bad rap in horror media, from Stephen King’s chilly Storm of the Century to the apocalyptic nightmares of John F.D. Taff’s Fearing books or the mist-covered world of Silent Hill. It seems like nobody enjoys damp weather unless they’re in a musical or singing for a 90’s grunge-pop band. So naturally, the people trapped in Paul Kane’s The Storm aren’t best pleased when they’re forced to deal with not only umbrella weather, but a bunch of murderous creepy crawlies dropped from the heavens.
Unfortunately, just like a real storm, I wanted to get through this as fast as I could with a view to drying off. Not that this left me moist, either from excitement or nervousness. Despite a fantastic prologue which promises a great deal in just a few paragraphs, the story never manages to bite or shock as effectively as the rain-riding creatures when they begin munching on the cast. The first quarter concentrates on a few key characters, two of which – Keegan and Gemma – represent both sides of a bad break-up. They’re the eventual stars of the show, with their meeting and split recounted via flashbacks in near forensic levels of detail. We also meet a psychic kid fairly early on, with constant reminders that he has bad dreams about monsters, and of course, there are the obligatory expendable characters too.
All of this had me eager to see when those monsters were going to arrive, which I guess is a plus point, but it was at the expense of caring about any of the cast, who I just couldn’t engage with at all. Once the creatures arrive, all of the promise, the sheer malevolence which the prologue is basically dripping with just…dries up. The wriggly buggers are introduced in a literal flash of lightning, after which the story picks up a little, before plummeting back into a bit more drawn-out character work. When the creature attacks finally start ramping up, well past the halfway mark, there is some effectively creepy imagery, but nothing that’ll have you slamming the book down and swatting at it with a rolled-up newspaper.
The initial creature sequences are cluttered by different character’s quite samey descriptions of their encounters with the wormy invasion. As the story goes on, there’s an odd kind of disconnect between what people think and they’re doing – or what’s being done to them. Dialogue sometimes feels like it’s been switched out for descriptions of a character’s thoughts, or a character will pause to consider something other than the nightmare in front of them, sucking the immediacy out of many a scene. It got me thinking about another story about rain and wriggly things flooding the earth; Brian Keene’s Earthworm Gods. That book offered a much steadier drip-feed of character backstories and motivations, alongside far tenser, terrifying monster mayhem. And once I’d made that comparison in my mind, the rest of The Storm just kind of fizzled out for me.
Overall, for something which the introduction hypes as thrill-a-minute, movie-style romp (even daring to suggest comparisons between this book and some stone-cold classics), The Storm takes too long to get going, after which you might just want to fast-forward through to the ending with the odd pause to check out the creature bits.
It started off like any other day, but for the tourists, staff and workmen at Willerton Castle it will end in terror. Because a storm is coming, a storm like nothing anyone has ever seen. A storm that will herald an attack by creatures this world has never encountered before. Will any of them survive?
This new short novel of monstrous horror by the bestselling and award-winning author of Monsters (a British Fantasy Award finalist), the sellout Hooded Man and the award-winning Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell, The Storm, comes with an introduction from Rio Youers (The Forgotten Girl, Halcyon) and cover art by Ben Baldwin.
You can buy The Storm from PS Publishing
Ben got a taste for terror after sneaking downstairs to watch The Thing from behind the sofa at age 9. He’s a big fan of extreme & bizarre horror and well as more psychological frights, and most things in between. When he’s not reading, he’s writing, and when he’s not writing he’s on twitter @BensNotWriting or reviewing books on his YouTube channel, BLURB.