Hello, horror fiends! Dustin here again with another edition of Recent Reads. Well, it’s just Read this time. Your boy’s kind of been in a reading slump. Okay, and a writing slump too. But you know what? It’s nothing a little horror fun can remedy.
Division X by August Hill
I’m always in the mood for something fun and bloody. After a hot and heavy experience with The Damnation Game, I was, ahem, game for something lighter but still satisfied my cravings, which is why I’d like to thank August Hill and Tina Hill for getting a review copy of Division X sent my way. Seeing that I loved Adam Cesare’s Clown in a Cornfield, they figured I’d love Division X too, and they figured right! It is a book that takes you on a gruesome adventure that matches wit, horror, and heart.
Just published this year alone, Division X is a horror-adventure-thriller written by August Hill that tells the story of a young woman who finds herself afflicted with a werewolf curse after experiencing a vicious attack. Soon after, she finds herself captured by a mysterious organization that solves paranormal threats. A cure for her curse is promised but she must do work for them or face experimentation.
Right off the bat, I’m going to go ahead and say I loved this book. At first, I was trying to feel what it was going for after the first few chapters. Oh, the beginning chapters were absolutely amazing. It’s gruesome bloody, violent werewolf stuff that’s easy to read through. The prose is more practical than flowery, which I appreciated, especially for what the book is going for. It’s not like extreme horror levels of depravity — I know some of y’all reading this read more intense stuff than me — but I was shocked at times during these opening chapters.
Throughout the rest of the book, Mr. Hill’s prose is just as practical but another thing I want to touch on is how witty it is. It’s very tongue-in-cheek. I didn’t laugh out loud but I was smiling deep inside, but I’m not a person who laughs a lot anyway. Okay, so yeah, the dialogue is pretty snappy but not annoyingly so. Like, it’s the fun kind of banter that I’d easily picture being cinematic. The characters are all very distinct and it was easy for me to picture every one of them, even the supporting characters. I liked how the author is able to craft these characters that are easy to know without really going super deep into their backstories. We know our main character Randi wants to be a writer, we know she has a good heart and all that.
With the supernatural organization stuff, with Randi being partnered with a guy named Briggs, with the episodic feel of the book, it reminded me of The X-Files but with a bit of a sharper edge. Now, I’ve never seen more than, like, 3 episodes of the show but that’s definitely what I pictured. I say that there’s an edge to it because, despite the humor and amusement brought about by our characters’ reactions, the book still finds ways to catch me off-guard with the horror. Like I said, August Hill is good at snap characterization so you could get to know a newly introduced character really quick and like them, then bam they’re killed without much fanfare. Some of the horror elements introduced are also messed up, especially in the first case that Briggs and Randi handle as partners. The rest of the cases still had their shocks but I found this to be a bit disturbing.
Speaking of the cases, I also enjoyed how Mr. Hill shows his appreciation for the horror genre with references to known works in the horror zeitgeist. It’s a mix of callbacks to popular stuff and more obscure horror content. This is actually one of the things that made me feel like the novel had X-Files inspirations, especially with that first case. It reminds me of this infamous episode of the show that I read got banned from TV. If you know, you know.
That said, I liked that it references these other works without seeming like he’s just aping off of them. He finds ways to incorporate them into the plot that feel distinct and unique instead of derivative. The last case in the book is a testament to this as our characters have to solve a case that may be supernatural, extraterrestrial, or both. This last case is probably my favorite as it changes things up. Previous cases established that we’ll be getting a Briggs and Randi dynamic, or that the organization will be heavily involved. In this last one, we focus on people who are truly unprepared for what they’re dealing with. It’s a mix of familiarity and unpredictability that kept me on my toes. Not only am I racing through the pages to figure out what was happening, but I was also hoping against hope that my favorites make it out alive.
When I look back on my experience reading this book, I don’t have any major complaints, really. However, I feel like the way things ended was abrupt. I realize that this is the first part in a four-book series but I wanted a bit of closure to all the things we’ve established in previous events. I guess that will be covered in the upcoming books so I will stay tuned!
That is going to be it for this round. Keep your eyes peeled, dear readers for I got the opportunity to talk to Division X‘s author, August Hill. Watch out for my next post! In the meantime, check out Division X for yourself by getting a copy on Amazon.
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If you haven’t pre-ordered a copy, you’d better make sure to save a spot on your shelf for Chasing the Boogeyman by Richard Chizmar. One of the most highly anticipated…
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Dustin is a horror fan and sometimes short story writer who hails from the Philippines. He likes a lot of the horror genre but usually goes for slashers and arthouse/slowburn stuff. Currently, he’s trying to make up for lost time in the horror literature world by digesting as many horror books as he can.