Placid Point: R.J. Meldrum
Reviewed By Steve Stred
Horror comes in many forms. The slow burn, creeping up on you story that has a massive wallop at the end. The in-your-face brutality of extreme horror that makes you feel icky and question why you loved it so much. Creature feature. Psychological thrillers. The tried and true narratives of Vampires and Zombies.
But one theme that can sometimes be the most unsettling is Real Horror. For me anyways, ‘Real’ horror is that kernel of truth from a science-based idea that makes you stop and realize that what you’re reading is plausible. It could happen. And that crawls under my skin something fierce.
What I liked: So it goes, ‘Placid Point’ falls into the ‘Real Horror’ category for me. A story that shares a simple moment from decades ago – two young men hired to do a job. Move some barrels from point A to point B. Once they realize how long the job is going to take, they instead toss the barrels into the lake. Thirty years later, a storm cracks a barrel and its contents spill out.
From here, Meldrum has grounded this story with what would actually happen. The health and safety inspector of the small town is called in. Sends samples of the weird algae to the lab and so on. It is hauntingly unsettling because you know something is coming.
The characters don’t get much background, which isn’t bad in this case. We know who they are because of their jobs and how they handle their job.
Oddly, how this plays out reminded me a bit of Garth Ennis’ ‘Crossed’ only different, which will inevitably drive some of you batty reading that!
What I didn’t like: Because Meldrum has written this following a true and real formula for events, the start is lacking any sense of urgency. Throughout I was waiting for the reveal or the sprint of events to happen and it just doesn’t. The story flows really well, but know you’re getting a structured slow-burn narrative here.
Why you should buy this: If you loved ‘Outbreak’ or anything similar where you get to see the effects of a foreign substance in a real place occur this will be up your alley.
Meldrum seems to have really done some homework on how things would occur and the story is made all the better for it.
The village of Placid Point is a lakeshore resort with a hidden secret. Beneath the calm of waters of Lake Placid a horror awaits. A man-made biological weapon was secretly sunk into the waters of the lake decades before, and it is now about to be accidentally released.
Hell is about to descend on the inhabitants of Placid Point.
(with a cover by Adrian Baldwin)
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.
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