They All Died Screaming: Kristopher Triana
Reviewed By Ben Walker
Coming across like a hyperviolent, apocalyptic blend of Street Trash and an Edward Lee story, Kristopher Triana’s They All Died Screaming might seem like it spoils its own plot based on the title. Scratch the surface though, and there’s a deep well of humanity to be found amidst the chaos and carnage.
Now yes, this involves a pandemic so you might think to yourself “too soon”, but this was actually written pre-Covid, and it’s more of a zombie/infected situation than anything. Any unlucky souls afflicted with the mysterious Scream yell themselves hoarse while also becoming incredibly violent. The main narrative involves a sleazy guy called Chuck and his ragtag group of drinking buddies/acquaintances dealing with the gradual onset of The Scream in their neighbourhood, alongside a second narrative involving a young boy’s abduction by a nameless character, who forces the lad to work on a pig farm which also houses…less typical livestock.
This dual-narrative approach lends what could have been a standard “infected people run riot / the world is doomed” scenario a much tenser edge, as you’re left to wonder what the captured boy and this man have to do with the global crisis, untouched as they appear by the effects of The Scream. The farm scenes give off heavy Edward Lee vibes, from the country dialects to the degradation of humanity, all presented in a very matter-of-fact way. Violence and perversion on the farm is almost casual, a way of life for the nameless man. It’s often shocking and sometimes painfully sad, as you see a young person’s childhood gradually twisted into something else.
The city scenes with Chuck and his gang offer little in the way of relief, with peculiar sex practices giving way to existential crises, and horrendous violence inflicted on all manner of people, from the very old to the very young. As such it won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but offsetting the off-putting is some massively impressive character work, constantly subverting your expectations as motivations and secrets are revealed at just the right moments. Every character is given a chance to reveal more about themselves, with some modern issues surrounding sexuality and gender identity brought respectfully into play. There are more than a few death-bed confessions here, some of which shock and some of which flip your expectations in an intriguing, often tragically moving way.
Extreme horror doesn’t come much more extreme than this, but it’s never shocking for the sake of it. It’s a story that weighs heavily on you throughout, and afterwards, thanks to its intelligent explorations of humanity and hopelessness. In other words, don’t expect to leave with a smile on your face; as brilliant as the story is, you’re going to want something comforting on hand through its grim closing chapters.
They All Died Screaming
It’s called The Scream…
Once you get it, you simply cannot stop screaming.
You can’t eat or sleep. It drives you more and more insane until you can’t stand to be alive a second longer.
When the phenomenon hits Chuck’s city, the chronically unemployed pervert joins a band of misfits to make his final stand.
Can Chuck, a bitter bartender, a dockside prostitute, a conspiracy theorist, and a homeless man find a way out of the apocalypse…
Or will they all die screaming?
They All Died Screaming is a plague novel by Splatterpunk Award-Winning author Kristopher Triana. It is a pitch black book about the lowly and downtrodden being the last people on earth.
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.