The Horror Honeys: Hardcover Honey's Haunted Bookclub ~ "Brood"

Hardcover Honey's Haunted Bookclub ~ "Brood"

A Book of the Week Review by Jocelyn

Brood – Chase Novak

This week your Hardcover Honey is going to do something she has never done before.  No, not that, you sicko!  Get your mind out of the gutter!  This week your Hardcover Honey is recommending a book BEFORE I have finished reading it <gasp>!  I never do that, but I’m about 60 pages from the end of Chase Novak’s “Brood” and I feel that confident that any fan of the Horror Honeys will be a fan of this book.

Although “Brood” is a sequel to earlier novel “Breed”, it’s not a prerequisite that “Breed” be read first.  That being said, I think reading the first book would enhance your enjoyment of this one.  Your call!  In “Breed” we were introduced to wealthy Manhattan couple Leslie and Alex Twisden who had undergone a controversial and secretive fertility treatment overseas in order to conceive their beloved twins, Adam and Alice.  Sadly, said treatment left the Twisdens with certain…….appetites………and eventually it becomes clear that Adam and Alice aren’t safe in their own palatial NYC mansion.  I don’t want to spoil that book for you, so suffice it to say that “Brood” picks up a few years after “Breed” ends and the twins find themselves being rescued from the foster care system by Leslie’s sister Cynthia, who is determined to love the twins back to health.  She has completely rehabbed the house at great expense and is absolutely sure that she can be the mother they deserve.

Almost instantly, things in the house seem a bit off – though not a haunted house story, the eerie size and age of the house definitely come into play.  In one memorable scene, Cynthia visits the bathroom in the middle of the night and after availing herself of the facility, finds she has been PEEING ON A LIVE BAT IN THE TOILET – God help me I will never sit down again without checking first.  The house creaks and moans as old houses are wont to do, but knowing the chamber of horrors that existed in the basement under her sister’s reign of terror definitely leaves Cynthia (and the reader) unsettled.

The twins seem like decent kids, although they exhibit a strange reluctance to eat.  As we learn more about them, it becomes clear that they are part of an entire subculture of kids, results of the fertility treatments so many wealthy New Yorkers have availed themselves of – treatments that left not just the parents altered.  Many of these kids have formed packs, roaming the streets late at night, climbing and moving with incredible speed – some might say animal speed – and as it turns out, selling their blood as a new and insanely effective drug – think Viagra or testosterone, but hundreds of times stronger.  When one somewhat reclusive millionaire takes a few hits too many in an attempt to keep up with his younger wife, very bad things happen.  

A friend of Alice’s – Rodolfo – is the undisputed leader of this wild bunch and despite his odd patois, he is very focused on quality control, making sure to sell blood from only certain members of the group – those whose abilities haven’t tipped over too far into the wilder side, those who can still speak and wash themselves, etc.  A large group holes up in an apartment across town from Alice and Adam, where it’s a sort of urban Lord of the Flies – with soap covered in dark hair and Liquid Plumr on permanent standby.  A scene in Central Park where two hapless cops attempt to exert control over this group literally gave me nightmares – no easy task.

Our side story to the twins is Dennis Kestwick, something of a low man on an undetermined totem pole whose job is to capture these feral children and deliver them to a mysterious lab under cover of darkness.  There’s lots of talk of “subjects”, “trials” etc and I so regret that I can’t tell you more about that yet – something tells me good old Dennis might not make it to the end of the book though… spoiler alert here since I truly don’t know yet!  The head of the lab mentions that “one shot of blood taken from these kids and the rats are solving mazes thirty to forty times faster than the control group” so it’s clear why the street drug is selling fast and why there’s billions to be made.

Running underneath all of the animal kids, gory deaths, and packs of rats in basements is my favorite kind of dark story, the kind that tells of the uncertainty and fear of parenting.  So my kid isn’t covered in thick hair and running on all fours, but who knows what kind of shit he will get into when I’m not looking, right?  As Cynthia notes “parents must think of the long run, because raising kids is not a sprint, not a dash, it’s a marathon, a marathon plus a mountain climb plus a potato-sack race plus a rodeo plus a bungee jump plus a sail around the Cape of Good Hope in a little sea-battered skiff without a compass, without a map, and with only the stars to guide you.”  Shudder.

The verdict: 4 feral kids out of 5 for this one.