Having received this book from Cemetery Dance as a promotional item, I was delighted to have an opportunity to read and review an author and title I had not heard of before. Touch the Night by Max Booth III is a hometown horror taking place in Percy, Indiana. This small town holds some sinister secrets and follows two preteen boys as they stumble upon an epicenter of ancient black magic.  I did not want to enjoy it, but like a car accident unfolding outside your living room window, I could not tear myself away.

Touch the Night opens with a unique dedication, “This book is dedicated to your mom.” I have not yet stumbled across an author so bold as to open their novel with a “your mom” joke, and correctly assumed that the story to come would be equally bold and entertaining. Max Booth III writes in a sub-genre perhaps best described as trashy slasher; while certainly a horror novel, readers would be hard pressed to consider it as a work of literature. However, any shortcoming in prose is made up for in audacious shock value and gore – compelling in its own right.

This tale of carnage and obscenities opens on two twelve-year-old boys, Alonzo Jones and Joshua Washington, having a sleepover. Seemingly average teenage misfits, the boys end up embarking on a bizarre impulse mission when they decide to slip out Alonzo’s bedroom window and into the October night. Starting out as an innocent walk around town, these two boys decide to rob a gas station and manage to accidentally bash the store attendants’ brains in on the cash register. As the boys flee the scene of the crime, their worst nightmare is realized when flashing blue and red lights appear behind them. However, these aren’t just your regular small town police officers, but are in fact alien beings hiding behind their uniform – and this tale is about to take a gruesome turn for the worst.  The boys are kidnapped and brought to a house of horrors that decorates its halls with body parts of past victims dangling on hooks. Things are not looking good for the troubled teens and their only hope comes from the boys’ mothers, who refuse to believe the local law enforcement that insists the boys are criminals on the run.

Chocked full of gore, torture, and an abundance of obscenities; Touch the Night will leave the reader wanting to desperately scrub the mental images from memory after consuming. Max Booth III goes absolutely nuts with this novel, with horror beyond the scope of the imagination. No one should read this novel, but I know all of you horror heathens will be grabbing it up anyway.

I was reminded of Stephen King’s intro to Salem’s Lot, when King speaks of his mother and how she would judge his library picks. There was trash, and then there was bad trash. While Stephen King’s mother would have certainly put this in the “bad trash” category, there is something to be said for this subgenre of horror. Though Touch the Night can’t hold a candle to Stephen King, a large part of a books’ appeal is in how compelling the story is. Did it catch the reader’s attention? Are they unable to put it down? Touch the Night is certain to capture the horror connoisseur’s morbid curiosity. Admittedly, while unsure how such an outlandish and outrageous tale could have ever been published, this novel will have the reader immediately searching for what other crazy and fantastical horror novels Max Booth III has published.

Touch the Night gets a reluctant 3/5 as a rating from this reviewer, as the controversial material was equally compelling as it was revolting. In addition, the book carries potential as a talking point amongst the horror fandom, a means to discuss the place of extreme content within the genre. Don’t be afraid to get down and dirty, just make sure you come back and tell me how it felt to be among the filth!

 

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