9781942645825Take four of the world’s top hor­ror writ­ers, add an ambi­tious media mogul and his tech-​savvy girl­friend, mix in a creepy old house where two sav­age mur­ders took place and a dash of spook­ery in the form of two deceased sis­ters, and you’ve got the ingre­di­ents for KILL CREEK, Scott Thomas’s ter­rific debut novel.

Thomas’s premise is both straight­for­ward and intrigu­ing: media tycoon Wain­wright invites extreme hor­ror writer T.C. Moore, Chris­t­ian YA nov­el­ist Daniel Slaugh­ter, leg­endary hor­ror writer Sebas­t­ian Cole, and famous but fal­ter­ing gothic hor­ror writer Sam McGarver to spend Hal­loween night in the noto­ri­ous Finch House. No one is any too keen about the idea, but each can use the pub­lic­ity, not to men­tion the cash.

The fate­ful night in the haunted Finch man­sion proves dis­turb­ing enough, with a few gen­uinely scary moments as well as a mean-​spirited on-​air inter­view by their host, but the next day all four writ­ers leave the house, shaken but appar­ently unscathed.

The Finch House has let them off easy. Or so it would appear.

The real hor­ror begins later, first fore­shad­owed by a tragedy that strikes Daniel Slaugh­ter on the day they depart the house. After that, all four expe­ri­ence a period of writ­ing so obsess­sive there’s barely time to eat or sleep as each cre­ates their own ver­sion of a novel based upon the Finch House. Soon it becomes appar­ent the Finch House was only toy­ing with them that first night, let­ting them leave in order to lure them all back for a final, deadly bat­tle with the supernatural.

Thomas’s writ­ing is vivid, even at times lyri­cal, despite a plot that doesn’t shy away from vio­lence and gore. His char­ac­ters reflect the real­ity behind their work and the urgent cre­ativ­ity that’s some­times rooted in trauma, loss, and phys­i­cal abuse. To a per­son, they cover their scars care­fully, and the Finch House is all too ready to expose each painful truth.

KILL CREEK is Thomas’s debut novel and a final­ist for Best First Novel for the 2017 Bram Stoker Awards. It’s a bril­liant begin­ning that left me already look­ing for­ward to his next book.

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