Catfish In The Cradle: Wile E. Young
Reviewed By Brian Bogart
A few months back, I had the chance to read a copy of The Magpie Coffin from Wile E. Young (which is a bloody brilliant splatter Western- seriously, just read it). I walked away so entertained by it, I immediately wanted to read his debut novel. So join me as we take a trip to a little place called Uncertain, and get down to the swamp-fueled voodoo lurking in those murky depths…
First off, let me say this: for a debut novel, Young has tackled a great set of themes to explore, wrapping them up in a great setting, too. Themes like family, getting older, the sacrifices and importance of family, then throws in some cosmic darkness amid cults and the horrors lurking deep in the river.
Young does a great job of not just building the main character, Grady, in a down-to-earth and believable fashion, but from the very first page paints the scenery surrounding him and succeeds in transporting the reader. Grady is grieving the loss of his wife and his missing daughter, pondering his own life and the years gone by. Suddenly, his daughter does show up, in the throes of a painful labor- and unexpectedly gives him the gift of a grandson. But is young Lincoln a blessing from above… or a hellish curse?
That’s how it starts and boy, its a pretty wild ride from there. The author has pitched it as “Creature From the Black Lagoon meets Rosemary’s Baby”… and I would really be doing you a disservice to go into too much detail, but in a number of ways, that quote fits. A lot of the influences you can spot right away, without it coming across as “a bit much”. That does happen sometimes with fresh authors, especially. Wearing the influences on their sleeve, but on a shirt too tight. That isn’t a problem here, thankfully.
It was nice to dive into some well-drawn characters after a few anthologies and novellas that catered to the more extreme side of things. While there are some great scenes of gore and well-described horror within, Young applies it as necessary and to great effect, without overdoing it. The main push and pull of this tale hinges on the relationship between Grady and his grandson, but don’t worry, kids: all that psychological stuff means when it’s time for the small town of Uncertain to come to terms with the bizarro and the blood- it is well-earned.
A lot of authors struggle with making you understand secondary characters when writing from a first-person point-of-view. (Hell, I know I do sometimes.) Young does pretty well on this front, I think.
I really enjoyed this. It was paced well, interesting, and a great piece of Southern horror. Kinda like The Legend of Boggy Creek, with a dash of Lovecraft… but with more character, a much better payoff, and a way cooler mythology.
Wile E. Young may be a “young” author in the horror genre, but he knows how to entertain. While wisdom usually comes with more years under the belt- better writing only comes from putting more words on the page.
And I look forward to reading them.
Catfish In The Cradle
Grady Pope has hit bottom; his alligator hunting business is failing and his daughter has abandoned him. Nearly giving up, his life is turned upside down when she reappears and dies giving birth to a son.
Grady takes in his erstwhile grandson, vowing to raise him. He soon notices that strange events occur around the child, culminating in the revelation that he isn’t entirely human.
The ancient forces who dwell in the river want their kin back and Grady Pope must decide whether blood does run thicker than water.
Brian Bogart is an American author, residing in Northern Ireland. His love of genre fiction started at an early age, consuming every horror and fantasy book available. He has been published in various degrees online and contributed a short fiction piece, “TOCSIN”, to The One Million Project (OMP) Thriller Anthology in an effort to raise money for cancer research and the homeless. He loves to share his enthusiasm for the horror genre with others and help promote other authors.
His latest story, alongside many other authors, can be found in the pages of EPIC FANTASY SHORT STORIES, coming soon from Flame Tree Publishing.
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