The October Boys: Adam Millard
Reviewed By Steve Stred
Thanks to Pete and Bloodshot Books for sending this my way!
The synopsis sounded fantastic and I really loved the cover so when Pete sent it over recently, I was excited to dive into it. I’d heard great things about the book and lately coming-of-age stuff has been hitting a soft spot for me!
What I liked: This one jumps between Halloween 1988 and 2016. Back then a group of twelve-year-olds were out Trick or Treating when they heard the eerie strains of an Ice Cream Truck approaching. They soon realize that the driver isn’t a friendly salesman and they take off running. Now, years later, visions begin to haunt them again and one by one they realize the Ice Cream Truck is coming around again. I loved the friendship between the group and as things progressed, I loved the tie-in characters from 1988 who pop back up.
Millard does a great job of grounding this story in reality, specifically by including several of the spouses of the men now grown up. I find this is often an area where books will completely ignore and it was nice to see the ramifications as some of the men began to go off the rails.
What I didn’t like: The book does have an overall vibe similar to IT and at times the manipulation by the character was similar to Pennywise, but I found that was a charming homage to the genre and to King himself. For me, what I wasn’t a fan of was the all-too-brief finale, the build-up of 90% of the book for an epic battle and then it was over in a matter of several pages. It may have been ideal to cut back on some of the build-up to allow for the ending to take place over a longer period of time, or simply add more to it and keep the build-up. Either way, it was a bit deflating to have things just end.
Why you should buy it: This really is a fantastic coming-of-age horror story and while the ending was over and done with quickly, how it ended still worked really well. It wasn’t a lame ending or a ‘really?’ ending, it worked great and tied things together.
The writing was fantastic and I found I wanted to keep going, find out more and as the story unfolded I became more and more attached to each and every character.
This really was a fun time and I suspect it’ll become standard October/Halloween reading for most horror lovers over the next few years.
The October Boys
A gang of twelve-year-old boys are trick-or-treating in London. Off in the distance, they hear the discordant chimes of an ice-cream truck. It seems strange to hear on a cold autumnal night, but their thoughts of maximizing their candy haul soon dismissed its incongruous melody… until they saw the rusting hulk idling in the shadows at the end of the street, its driver a faceless shadow.
That was the night he took one of them.
Years later, Halloween is fast approaching and Tom Craven is still haunted by the events of that dark night, especially the fact that their friend was never found. Increasingly plagued by horrific visions, Tom returns to the place where it all began, only to discover he’s not the only one who can feel it. His friends have already arrived and are preparing for a battle which could get them all killed.
The Ice Cream Man is back… and he’s come for the ones that got away.
Steve Stred writes dark, bleak horror fiction.
Steve is the author of three novels, a number of novellas and four collections.
He is proud to work with the Ladies of Horror Fiction to facilitate the Annual LOHF Writers Grant.
Steve is also a voracious reader, reviewing everything he reads and submitting the majority of his reviews to be featured on Kendall Reviews.
Steve Stred is based in Edmonton, AB, Canada and lives with his wife, his son and their dog OJ.
You can follow Steve on Twitter @stevestred
You can follow Steve on Instagram @stevestred
You can visit Steve’s Official website here