February 25, 2015

With Fiends Like These, Who Needs Enemies: a review of John Farris' "Fiends"

Fiends
by John Farris
narrated by Chet Williamson
Crossroad Press (2012)
originally published in 1990
400 pages (11hrs.and 54 min.)

Available at Amazon.com

Here's a tip for you just in case you find yourself in a horror novel: don't go in the cave. Never. Nope, not ever. Not once have I ever read a horror novel where going into the cave led to anything other than the absolute worst thing. It's rubbish. So no caves. There. I've saved some lives. Too bad I couldn't have told the poor saps in John Farris' Fiends before they trundled off into the deep, dark cave to find their friends.

It's begins with a box. Arne was a boy when the box found its way to his home one fateful day. His father knew it was bad news, but the entity inside lured Arne's mother to open the box, unleashing something called a huldufolk. Look 'em up if you have the time. Nasty little buggers. The mere touch of one eventually kills Arne's father, corrupts his mother, and sends him to an insane asylum.  Fast forward to present day and Arne's an old disturbed man befriended by a young woman working at the mental health facility housing him. She invites him to the outside world to her home, but just in time to discover that the ancient evil his family set loose is set to make a comeback.

This Audible edition that I listened to had a pretty darned good narrator in Chet Williamson. Maybe that's what ultimately turned this novel into the first one the three of Farris' novels I've read that I thoroughly enjoyed. The southern drawl, along with distinct voices for each of the major characters, really helped flesh out the heart of the story.

The pace is steady, always mounting, always upping the stakes, especially when it comes time for Arne and company to go venturing into the caves in search of the missing people and the huldufolk. If you enjoy creature features, or southern gothic horror, or both, then you're likely to find a treat in this one.

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