As a fan of slashers in film and book format, I feel like I’ve come to a point where I’m no longer fazed. That is, until I’ve read Sean McDonough’s The Class Reunion. Mr. McDonough previously wowed me with his ambitious and fun novel The Terror at Turtleshell Mountain, and during my slasher kick, it’s a no-brainer for me to dive into this one.
WHAT IS IT?
Written by Sean McDonough, The Class Reunion is a 2019 slasher novel. In it, a group of former classmates sneak into their old school for a get-together. Unknown to them, a man with sinister intentions waits inside to pick them off one by one.
This book may be short but it sure packs a lot of punch. Mr. McDonough’s characters are, in my opinion, fully realized. As such, I dug that a decent amount of characterization can be included within the small page count without taking a toll on everything else. Vickie Fields is a pretty compelling protagonist and I liked that she isn’t the straight arrow that slasher final girls usually are. She makes interesting choices in the narrative for sure.
The real surprise for me is the book’s killer. Naturally, we do get the story from their point of view and this has got to be the creepiest aspect for me. Their whole religious motif and theme fit well with the Catholic school setting. The way that they see their victims too gets to me. Like, it’s a bit disturbing that I’m freaked out by it and also understand their logic. They still do f***ed up shit, is what I’m saying but the way they go about their murderous business as if their victims are just tools for what they’re doing — it’s messed up and totally not what I was expecting. Naturally, with a messed up killer, you get messed up kills.
This being a slasher, I both delighted in the nasty ways the author offs his characters, especially after establishing them as real people. Like, we do have our characters types here but as the book goes along, the boxes that we put the characters in start to blur, making them interesting. Combine this with the kills that we get make for an intense read. The “fun” doesn’t stop there, though. In the segments where we see things from the killer’s POV, we get glimpses of what happens to the bodies and it just makes my skin crawl.
Finally, there is a reveal in the end that pulls the rug under the reader once again, changing what we know about how the killer works and introduces an element that puts the whole book into a new perspective I would like explored in a sequel. I’m amazed that a lot of these elements — interesting characters, gnarly kills, scary-as-shit killer — can fit into this book with such tight pacing. I would’ve probably finished the book within the day I started reading if it weren’t for my job.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK?
I just want to put what I said into perspective. While I really loved this slasher book, make no mistake. It’s a slasher book. That’s not a bad thing at all for me. However, just don’t go into this expecting ruminations of the human condition. If you like slashers and you like those that play by the tropes and aren’t necessarily game-changers but offer an effective experience within the glut of slasher media out there, do consider reading this one.
WHERE CAN I FIND IT?
I got my paperback copy of The Class Reunion on Amazon, the book is also available through Kindle .
The Class Reunion is honestly one of the best slasher novels I’ve read in a while. With a tight and focused pace, a creepy killer, and the perfect balance between character development and gore, this book surprised me and made me believe that slashers can legitimately be scary again, at least in the literary world.
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.