Monday, 18 August 2014
The Girl in the Basement by Wayne Simmons
The Girl in the Basement is the latest offering from Northern Ireland's genre giant, Wayne Simmons. Published by Infected Books, this brutal little novella is a psychological thriller that wallows in noir conventions. Simmons is primarily known as a horror hack (in his own words), but he has done a terrific job of straddling a few crime fiction sub-genres in this one. But if you're a true-blue horror fan, don't worry, he does manage to squeeze in a cheeky zombie movie reference here and a slasher flick hat-tip there. Now, while there are undoubtedly points in this novella that Simmons hammered out with a wry smile on his face, you are more likely to grimace than grim; which is what his constant readers have come to expect and crave, no doubt.
As far as the plot goes, the title tells you just enough to give you an idea of what's going on. I don't want to spoil anything, so I won't go into any more detail. What I will say is that I took more from this than I did from, say, Stephen King's Gerald's Game, a novel with a similar premise that (in my opinion) should have been much shorter. And I'm a fan of those epic King novels, IT and The Stand, as well as the entire Dark Tower series, so you can't really blame my lack of enthusiasm for Gerald's Game on a shortening attention span. I think Simmons nailed the pace and balanced the back story elements in his offering perfectly. Best read in one sitting. The Girl in the Basement isn't just a gut punch, it's a heavyweight pummelling. Just remember to breathe as you take your lumps. It'll all be over soon enough.