The Tittering, The Bitting, and The Skittering in “The Hatching” by Ezekiel Boone

“Big and fast, black apricots thundering against the glass. Skittering”

Stats

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Hardcover 
  • 334 pages
  • Published July 5th, 2016 by Atria/Emily Bestler Books
  • ISBN1501125044 (ISBN13: 9781501125041)
  • Edition Language English
  • Series The Hatching #1

About

From the publisher, “Deep in the jungle of Peru, where so much remains unknown, a black, skittering mass devours an American tourist whole. Thousands of miles away, an FBI agent investigates a fatal plane crash in Minneapolis and makes a gruesome discovery. Unusual seismic patterns register in a Kanpur, India earthquake lab, confounding the scientists there. During the same week, the Chinese government “accidentally” drops a nuclear bomb in an isolated region of its own country. As these incidents begin to sweep the globe, a mysterious package from South America arrives at a Washington, D.C. laboratory. Something wants out.

The world is on the brink of an apocalyptic disaster. An ancient species, long dormant, is now very much awake.


My Thoughts

Uh. Jesus, god no. No seriously, think about taking humanities worst fears and shoving them into a post-apocalyptic skittering, jittering, tearing the kind-of book, and you have “The Hatching” by Ezekiel Boone. It makes my skin crawl just thinking about this story. Is that an itch? Or is a spider burrowing out of my skin?

The story revolves around a large cast of characters, all from different walks of life, professions, genders, age ranges, etc. Basically, a large selection of humanity that is varied, but as the story progresses increasingly interconnected. Each chapter is a small snapshot of these persons lives as the apocalyptic drama of the spiders rolls out. If you have read World War Z by Max Brooks and are familiar with the format, then you will understand the vignette style of “The Hatching.” This style of narrative excels at increasing the drama and the thrills. To me, it almost feels like you are running at full speed from moment to moment. In a book about spiders, this is very effective. It is so compelling that I had to put down the book a couple of times and take a breath. It is that tense. Plus, I am not a huge fan of creepy crawlies especially if they burrow into your skin.

The plot of the story starts out benign enough, and this book takes place of the course of 6 days. Spiders start out as scary, but generally, they are not “oh my god” humanity is about to implode scary. Boone slowly rolls out thrill and disgusting chill on these characters. First, we see eggs, then we see large-scale destruction from far away, then we see dead spiders in droves, then spiders crawl out of peoples faces… it is a slow rolling snowball of gross. I tip my proverbial hat to Boone for how he structured many of these vignettes. Sometimes we get to know a character over the course of a few pages, start to empathize with them, laugh at their jokes, and read that they are eaten by a swarm of voracious spiders. Wasn’t expecting that.

“She didn’t know how many of them there were, but they were frantic. Dozens of them at least. They’d been packed in the egg, and they came out in a swarm, their bodies unfolding, alien and beautiful. Big and fast, black apricots thundering against the glass. Skittering.

She put her palm against the glass of the insectarium, and the spiders flew to it.”

Excerpt from “The Hatching” by Ezekiel Boone

Character-wise, many of these people are not developed, and that is fine. With the frenetic pacing I do not really care about many of the characters idiosyncrasies. It just is not important this early in the series. I do expect, as the series progresses, that we will get to learn a bit more about the back story of the main protagonists.  You know, as the cast of characters is widdled, or should I say is eaten, away.

The ending of the story was spot on and a perfect segue-way into the next book. I seriously cannot wait to see what happens with the spiders next. They seem almost otherworldly at this point in their ability to reek carnage and disaster on us, weak humans. Maybe next book Boone will have them flying with tiny M16s. At this point, I put nothing past this author. Is this a perfect horror book? No. Is this a fantastic bit of fun to while away a few hours? Absolutely. Totally and completely worth the chills and thrills.


Procurement

I obtained a copy of this through scribd, the library and Amazon.


About the Author

From Goodreads, “I live in upstate New York with my wife and kids. Whenever I travel and say I’m from New York, people think I mean NYC, but we live about three hours north of New York City. Our house is five minutes outside of a university town. We’re far enough out of town that, at night, it’s dark. 
No. 
Darker than that. 
Dark enough that, if you’re not careful, you might fall off the small cliff at the edge of my property. If you’re lucky, the water will be up enough to break your fall. If you’re not lucky, please sign a waiver before you come to visit. 
I’ve got two unruly dogs who are mostly friendly. Well, that’s not true. The part about them being unruly is true, but one of them is the most friendly dog you’ve ever met, and the other dog … isn’t. They are good writing partners, though they spend a lot of their day curled up in front of the wood burning stove and ignoring me. Unless I’m making lunch. They pay attention to me then. 
The Ezekiel Boone website is 
www.ezekielboone.com, but I’ve also got a nifty website for THE HATCHING at www.TheHatchingBook.com. It has a cool map and some other bells and whistles. 
You can also 
follow me on Facebook or follow me on Instagram if you are so inclined and like the idea of occasionally seeing photos of my dogs. 
If you’ve read this far, I should mention that THE HATCHING is Ezekiel Boone’s first book, but it’s not actually *my* first book. I also write under the name Alexi Zentner. Alexi Zentner’s books are pretty different from Ezekiel Boone’s.”

Swine Hill is full of the Dead in Break the Bodies, Haunt the Bones

eARC Review of “Break the Bodies, Haunt the Bones”
by Micah Dean Hicks

Stats

  • 5 out of 5 Stars
  • Hardcover
  • 304 pages
  • Expected publication: February 5th, 2019 by John Joseph Adams/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

About

“[T]his novel is extraordinary . . . It is Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, mixed with H. G. Wells’s The Island of Doctor Moreau, set in the creepiest screwed-up town since ’Salem’s Lot . . . [A] major achievement.” — Adam-Troy Castro, Sci-Fi magazine

Swine Hill was full of the dead. Their ghosts were thickest near the abandoned downtown, where so many of the town’s hopes had died generation by generation. They lingered in the places that mattered to them, and people avoided those streets, locked those doors, stopped going into those rooms . . . They could hurt you. Worse, they could change you.

Jane is haunted. Since she was a child, she has carried a ghost girl that feeds on the secrets and fears of everyone around her, whispering to Jane what they are thinking and feeling, even when she doesn’t want to know. Henry, Jane’s brother, is ridden by a genius ghost that forces him to build strange and dangerous machines. Their mother is possessed by a lonely spirit that burns anyone she touches. In Swine Hill, a place of defeat and depletion, there are more dead than living.

When new arrivals begin scoring precious jobs at the last factory in town, both the living and the dead are furious. This insult on the end of a long economic decline sparks a conflagration. Buffeted by rage on all sides, Jane must find a way to save her haunted family and escape the town before it kills them.


My Thoughts

“They could hurt

you. Worse,

they could

change you.”

Swine hill is a place that will hurt your body, wrack your soul at the altar of human selfishness, and destroy you. Imagine living in this place. Imagine working at the store or a packing plant here. Imagine having to share part of your soul with the undead. Hick’s characters do, and for a short time, we readers also do.  Hick’s has invented a story that is so rife with pain, imagination, and horrors that if you could take the spawn of Dr. Moreau and The Haunting of Hill House you would have something close to this. Haunt is unsettling in ways that made me uncomfortable deep down in my bones.

Hicks explores the premise of a haunted family in a haunted town. It centers around the protagonists Jane and Henry. Brother and sister trapped with the souls of unsettled ghosts inside them. In Jane’s case, it is the soul of a woman who thrives on conflict and secrets. The spirit silently whispers to jane the horrible thoughts and intentions of those around her. Henry has the ghost of a mad inventor inside him seeking to create incredible and awful machines whose purpose is sometimes unknown. The pair is also influenced by their mother and father, both haunted. Her mother is haunted by a person so craving affection that her body physically radiates heat. Enough to burn and scar. Jane is the heart of the family. Silently she pounds away at life and looks after her family as best as she can within the circumstances.

The crux of the story rests around Henry and how his mad ghost creates things. This time Henry invents pig people. Upright human-like animals that are built to self-slaughter and could eventually render the town and by extension humans obsolete. Henry creates many, but individually we meet Hog Boss and his kind son Dennis. Both are good-natured and thoughtful people set at deliberate juxtaposition to the rest of the “human” inhabitants of the town. Enter the fearful townsfolk, frightened of the unknown, in both the pig people and the loss of their livelihood. What happens next can only be described as an explosive clash between the old ways and the new all within the context of Jane attempting to save people.

“Her mother’s ghost

made the house

a suffocating place.

She didn’t touch Jane

often for fear

that she would burn

her.”

The setting in the story is unrestrainedly unworldly. The writing drips darkness and moisture from every page and sometimes, I could swear my kindle was fogging up from the cold. Hicks absolutely has created a world where you should be very afraid that ghosts will settle in your bones.

The underlying theme of this story is relationships: sister to brother, mother to son, lover to lover. In this, it is the immense power of links that can drive a person to the unthinkable or the extraordinary. What would I do for the person I love? What would I do to the person I hate? Person to person a spiderweb of narrative and relationships is created. This web holds the town together and eventually culminating in it blasting apart. 

It is poignantly cruel that these characters, so afflicted, must also contend with the worst problems we see in our own world. Hicks will unflinchingly show you the horrific visage of ghosts and nightmares pulled from the headlines of our own world, leaving you to wonder whether one lot is truly fundamentally worse than the other. And yet, perhaps it is true that they who would grow must first be made to suffer. Certainly, the growth we see in these characters is the result of a purposefully built set of trials and woes; it is not an easy journey for us to follow but it rewards us as only a master-crafted tale can.

Things get harsh and really painful for the characters in this story. I know I have alluded to it vaguely, but I don’t want to give away the cleverness of the story. It is scary, mystical, and bittersweet. It absolutely deserves all of the forthcoming awards that are going to be thrown at it. If you are a fan of the horror/bizarro genre, look no further than this book, but even more so if you are a fan of the written word and the power it can wield, this is a worthy read.

Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for a free copy of this ebook in exchange for an unbiased review. All opinions are my own. Quotations are taken from an uncorrected proof and may change upon publication.

About the Author

Micah Dean Hicks is the author of the novel Break the Bodies, Haunt the Bones. He is also the author of Electricity and Other Dreams, a collection of dark fairy tales and bizarre fables. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Kenyon Review, and elsewhere. Hicks grew up in rural southwest Arkansas and now lives in Orlando. He teaches creative writing at the University of Central Florida.