Pre Pub Book Buzz post for Frances Harding's Cuckoo Song, I made a very brief mention of the first ever James Herbert Awards. As a horror fan in general and a James Herbert fan in particular this is super awesome. Herbert, a powerhouse in horror, passed away in 2013 but his name is one that genre fans will undoubtedly never forget and an award in his honor just seems right.
Of the nominees - all published in the UK between January and December 2014 -, I've currently only read *gasp* half. I know! I'm working on it. But one of the very first of the nominees I read, way back in June of last year (and never posted a review of here on the blog) was Nick Cutter's debut, The Troop. (Nick Cutter is actually a pseudonym used by Craig Davidson.)
The Troop won, by the way.
Every year, Tim Riggs and the boys of Troop 52 take a little camping trip out to Falstaff Island. For a whole weekend they cookout, camp, tell ghost stories, hike, and enjoy the wilderness and solitude the island has to offer. But this year that wilderness and solitude turn against them.
A stranger arrives on the island, well into the night, and Riggs - a doctor - knows instantly that there's something very wrong with the man. What he doesn't know is that by helping him, Scoutmaster Tim has put the whole troop in very grave danger. As the man's sickness spreads, first to Tim and then to the scouts, the surviving boys struggle to stay alive and uninfected.
The Troop is a nasty horror read. Gross out, stomach churning nasty. The illness in question is a parasite, so you can probably imagine the kinds of ick that go with a horror set around that. Imagine, then multiply by ten and you might just be in the realm of what Cutter really has in store for you.
Trust me, I thought I was prepared. I wasn't.
If you're really twisted - and even I'm not this bad - you'll take The Troop camping and make sure you've just eaten when you read it. If you're not twisted, surround yourself with antibacterial options (soap, lotion, whatever), find a cozy clean place INSIDE to read, and don't even think about eating until tomorrow.
All kidding aside, The Troop is completely terrifying. Comparisons to Lord of the Flies are totally appropriate, as you might imagine. I mean, the adult in this scenario is obviously