Mass Hysteria: Michael Patrick Hicks
Reviewed By Steve Stred
Over the last few years, I’ve read a number of Patrick Hicks works and have really come to love his style of storytelling and the way he infuses each story with a larger idea, a deeper meaning.
Throughout this time, I’ve also had one of his novels sitting there on my TBR growing depressed that I was passing it over time and time again.
Heck, even David Sodergren was practically begging me to read ‘Mass Hysteria’ and when it gets to the point of him sending videos of his pug Boris with the caption saying “why won’t you read this book, Steve? why?” you know you need to get to it. (For the record, David never sent me those videos but he almost did beg, like almost, like ‘you read that book yet?’ level begging, so there’s that.)
Anyways, I went into this fairly blind, other than knowing that my love of ‘The Blood Beast Mutations’ by Carl John Lee and ‘Crazytimes’ by Scott Cole had similar plots and levels of gore.
What I liked: The story picks up the morning after Earth is treated to a huge meteor shower spectacle. In some cases, pieces of this meteor (or meteors, we never do find out) crash around towns and cities and in doing so, unleash some sort of spore or virus that inflicts an almost rabid-like response. At first it is just in the animals, but that begins to change and afflict the humans not long after.
Our main character, Lauren, a 17-year-old female, is a great lead and one that we can get behind. Her father is a police officer and as things go south, they manage to meet up and try their best to get to the mayor and the sheriff to figure out what’s going on and how to stop the carnage.
Carnage. I’m not sure if this word does the body count and the splatter justice. If I’d read a physical copy, I’m sure at some point viscera would begin to leak out of the pages. There’s just that much.
We also get a great secondary character in Shay and we see how, naturally, a leader emerges and a new type of society will form in the aftermath of what happens.
This reminded me a lot of Garth Ennis’ brutal comic series ‘Crossed’ and I was all for it.
What I didn’t like: There is a massive, massive, massive amount of animal death in here. In this case it is 100% necessary as the virus affects animals first and turns them into blood-fuelled killing machines, so just know going in, there are some really difficult scenes.
Additionally, we get a pretty long, drawn-out description and introduction of a specific character. We learn about how they hunt like clockwork and how they ended up becoming a depraved killer of humans and how they went about killing their first human. Ultimately, this was a significant amount of time spent on a character that overall didn’t factor much into this story at all, other than a few action scenes. Maybe there was a sequel planned or in the works where we’d learn more, but within the confines of this story, this just felt a bit excessive.
Why you should buy this: Patrick Hicks is a truly splendid author, one of those authors who writes a drama/depth piece and then layers a significant amount of blood over top of that story. Think about ‘Broken Shells,’ ‘Revolver’ or his still-in-progress ‘Salem Hawley’ series. ‘Mass Hysteria’ is no different. Layered storytelling that’ll suck you in and make you push on, even as the bodies pile up.
It came from space…
Something virulent. Something evil. Something new. And it is infecting the town of Falls Breath.
Carried to Earth in a freak meteor shower, an alien virus has infected the animals. Pets and wildlife have turned rabid, attacking without warning. Dogs and cats terrorize their owners, while deer and wolves from the neighboring woods hunt in packs, stalking and killing their human prey without mercy.
As the town comes under siege, Lauren searches for her boyfriend, while her policeman father fights to restore some semblance of order against a threat unlike anything he has seen before. The Natural Order has been upended completely, and nowhere is safe.
…and it is spreading.
Soon, the city will find itself in the grips of mass hysteria.
To survive, humanity will have to fight tooth and nail.
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
You can follow Steve on Instagram @stevestred
You can visit Steve’s Official website here