The Horror Honeys: Hardcover Honey's Book of the Week!

Hardcover Honey's Book of the Week!

"Nothing Men" - Doug Brunell 

Most of the time, your Hardcover Honey picks her own reading material and writes about what she wants to.  But sometimes, your Hardcover Honey is lucky enough to receive material from people searching for readers, some self-published or aspiring authors, some essayists, and the like.  Sometimes those works are even good, as is the case with Doug Brunell's action-packed book-I-read-in-one-sitting “Nothing Men”.  Now, I should note, and I have said this before, I DO NOT LIKE STORIES ABOUT CANNIBALISM.  So please, if you're reading this and you wonder if you should send your cannibal story to the Horror Honeys, please, please, don't.

However, I am willing to set aside my bias in this case, because I can wholeheartedly recommend this book to horror fans, even those squeamish ones like me – if you can sort of let your eyes drift over a paragraph or 20 in this book, you'll find plenty here to keep your interest (even if you realize later you're probably going to have nightmares about people biting each other's noses and ears off).

“Nothing Men” focuses on writer Mark Kennington and his unlucky stop in a small hick town called Valley Bottom where you can almost hear the banjos from Deliverance playing in the background.  On a road trip with his wife Jen and teenage daughter Amanda, Mark detours for lunch at the area's only restaurant, Momma Rose's.  Mark is promised that Momma Rose's has amazing burgers “the best damn meat you've ever tasted” and he, Jen, and Amanda have to agree that after their lunch stop, they are full and satisfied.  Oh but what's this?  While they were eating lunch their car radiator mysteriously sprung a leak?  And now it's going to take a few days to get the part?    

The friendly proprietor, Momma Rose herself, offers up a sparse room above the restaurant that they can stay in while the car is being fixed, although there's no TV, no cell service in town and not much to do other than continually eat at Momma Rose's.  There are two large barns nearby that the Kenningtons are warned to stay away from, as Momma Rose alludes to drug activity that's best left alone.   And everybody seems to speak in cryptic little sayings and tones, and there seems to be an awful lot of staring at Amanda, and who's this semi-retarded restaurant helper named Virgil?  And hey, has anybody seen a missing school bus full of kids that was supposed to come by this way?  

Jen agrees to go with one of the locals, Joseph, to get and pay for the car part while Mark and Amanda stay behind to wait.  If you've seen any horror movie that takes place in a creepy backwoods town, then you know that separating the family is always the thing that happens right before a bunch of crazy and horrible shit happens to them, and this is no exception.  Amanda meets another teenaged girl, the only one she sees while in town, the oddly named Charles, and goes off to hang out with her.  Mark meanwhile comes across a wheelchair-bound older professor type who looks oddly familiar – could this be the missing professor/author whose work Mark had read several years ago?

While Mark and Amanda are making their own terrible discoveries, Jen isn't quite on her way to get the car part as she planned, and things go even worse from there.  With Momma Rose and her band of hillbilly cannibals in full pursuit, the Kenningtons struggle to find their way back to each other, avoid becoming one of Momma Rose's special burgers and escape this literal hellhole.

Fighting my gag reflex, I can say that I really enjoyed this book.  It's not something I would ever recommend to, say, my mom, or, like, my fellow PTA members, but for those of you who like a straight-up hardcore horror story, you will find a lot to like here.  Bonus points for a creative and unpredictable ending, always hard to pull off (like a stubborn nose) and so satisfying (like one of Momma Rose's burgers) when an author can stick the landing like that.

Hardcover Honey's verdict: Four out of five juicy cannibal burgers for this nasty little tale.