Monday, November 26, 2018

THE FAITHFUL by Matt Hayward

Publisher: Sinister Grin Press
Publication Date: October 15, 2018
Pages: 269

Matt Hayward's meteoric rise in the horror genre is wonderful to witness. He's dropped some great books, from BRAIN DEAD BLUES to WHAT DO MONSTERS FEAR? and now THE FAITHFUL. The Bram Stoker Award-nominated author delivers the goods with THE FAITHFUL. I dig small-town, backwoods horror and Matt Hayward does it so well. I can't get over how well the characters were fleshed out. The atmospheric dread alone is enough to satisfy any horror reader. Hayward does a great job foreshadowing the story. There is plenty of mystery to keep you engrossed in the story. From start to finish, THE FAITHFUL kept me off balance and on my toes. 

At the Mountains of Madness meets They Live! With a tagline like that, what's not to like? 

Leo Cartwright is an aging comedian who performs his final show in New York City. Cristopher Tate, a young man with cerebral palsy tells Leo about strange dreams and a place called No Man's Land. Well, Leo forgets all about it until the young man winds up dead and an odd note taped to his RV window. Leo takes to the open road to find answers and ends up in the town of Elswich. I love quirky little towns on the outskirts of society. I dig the forgotten hillbilly towns that can't be found on any old map. Elswich fits the bill perfectly. 

Hayward writes top-grade prose. He also creates dynamic and complex characters. Leo and Jonesy make a great team, playing off of each other very well. THE FAITHFUL delivers with a religious cult and the cosmic horror. Shown to Leo in a dream by a mysterious man named Jarrad Prescott, the town prays to an Otherworldly god named Aypep and give their bodies to host his children in return for eternal life in the Otherworld. There's just something about the madness and chaos that ensues. It warms my horror heart and puts a smile on my face. 

The way Matt Hayward brings the cultists, their god, and the Otherworld to life is brilliant. Hayward does it in an economic way that enhances the reading experience. The climax is executed perfectly and the ending punches you in the gut. If I'm being honest, I got misty-eyed at the end. THE FAITHFUL pairs well with THE PRACTITIONERS, too. There isn't a weak element in this book. THE FAITHFUL is old-school horror at its best. This would make a perfect horror film starring Sam Neill and Joaquin Phoenix. Now, I want to listen to the audiobook. 

If you haven't read Matt Hayward, what are you waiting for? THE FAITHFUL is a great place to start. I can't wait to get my hands on Hayward's future work. 


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