Hell Barn: Joe Zito
Reviewed By Steve Stred
If you’ve followed me on Twitter and seen some of my reviews, you’ll know that I’ve grown to be a massive Joe Zito fan. Between his short fiction and longer reads, Zito dips and dives between Slasher and Splatterpunk and does so with a maniacal grin on his face.
I think the best way to sum up Zito’s writing is this; Joe Zito writes the movies you used to rent. You know which ones I mean. The ones with the crazy monsters on the VHS covers, with an insane soundtrack (you’d have to buy the CD after), women with little to no clothing and lots and lots of blood and gore.
When Zito announced ‘Hell Barn‘ I was sold. The name and synopsis were a perfect book for that Halloween read. I pre-ordered it and read it as soon as it hit my Kindle.
What I liked: The story takes place on Halloween in 1984. The small town has a horrific folk tale of a young boy being murdered in the barn by his house. Details are scant, but it’s enough to keep kids scared of the place, but also wanting to party there every chance they get. On this Halloween though, Jacob Grim, also known as Legless Grim, walks from the shadows to unleash his fury on the teens.
Zito wrote this with the screenplay in mind. I have no doubt about it. It opens up with two teens getting hot and heavy in the back seat of the car and then BAM! Pitchforks are flying. I loved the kill scenes we get in here, where things pop and burst and splatter.
Zito makes sure that this isn’t a one-trick pony, which was great. We get some great character development concerning the jocks and the outcasts as well as finding out the real story behind Jacob’s terrifying demise.
What I didn’t like: I typically don’t worry too much about typo’s and stuff like this, but in this case, I need to mention it. I’m not sure if Joe was rushing to get this out, or didn’t take a last re-read, but the book is riddled with these issues. I worked past it just fine, but for other readers, it may be something that’ll cause them to DNF. I’ve not had this issue with Zito’s work before, so I’m chalking it up to him rushing.
Why you should buy it: Zito writes some truly fantastic 80’s horror movies. His books fly along and he makes sure to infuse each of them with emotions. I had a really fun time with this one, as I always do with Joe’s work, and can’t wait to see what he’s got planned for us next.
Halloween 1984 Seventeen-year-old Mindy Swanson is the new girl in town.
She hates her new school but is thankful for her two outcast friends Tori and Thomas.
But the small town has a secret.
The teens of Bellhaven, Indiana grew up hearing the terrible tale of Jacob Grim and his bloody death in 1954.
A horrendous farming accident that left the twelve-year-old boy legless thus earning him the nickname, Limbless Grim.
Mindy soon learns the horrific truth via a bleak message from Jacob in her dream.
On Halloween night, Jacob has come home and everyone is invited to his homecoming party. It’s going to be one hell of a party!
Get the hell out!
Steve Stred is the author of a number of novels, novellas and collections. He has appeared in anthologies with some of Horror’s heaviest hitters.
He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada with his wife, son and their dog OJ.
You can follow Steve on Twitter @stevestred
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